Monday, May 9, 2011

Spare Dimes Dwindling Fast

Dear Mik Chiks,

Last week a local homeless shelter was having a fundraiser in the entry of our town's grocery store. I made a donation. The next evening when I ran in to the store to grab an item, they were there again. The pensive eyes of those sitting at the table made me feel like a heel for walking by them, with my "I donated yesterday." [There was no condemnation on their part, only self-inflicted guilt feelings on my part.] This weekend, they were there again ...and I walked by again, ...and felt like a heel again ...and I didn't say anything this time. :( It's the same feeling I have when I walk by Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas, after about the 3rd one, and several donations later -- what do you say? [I believe each of these to be legitimate causes.]

Any thoughts from you or your readers would be appreciated.

Dwindling pockets

Dear Dwindling,

There's a lot that could be said about this coNUNdrum. We could come up with  tactics like pulling the "I don't have any cash" line, or donating with smaller denominations so you can give out more of them. These are solutions that could work.

But we think the bottom line is that you need to make mental/spiritual peace with yourself.

We at Connecting Now happen to know that you are a particularly generous person. It seems your dilemma isn't that you feel guilty for not donating money, it's more that you're worried about how your lack of donation will be viewed by those pleading eyes.

You know you've given money to people who need it.  We're willing to bet that besides the random, spur-of-the-moment change jars, you make a habit of tithing. You're doing what you should be doing.

Don't let those pleading eyes be the motivation for your good works. As you walk into the grocery store and start to feel guilty, remind yourself that you and God are square, and that social perception is not the reason He's asked you to be generous.Think of it as an exercise to strengthen your character!

As far as what to actually say to these people, that can be tricky. I (Maddie) have a history of making things weird in this situation. Once, as I was going to a show in DC, there was a guy standing outside with an iPod, showing his band's music video, and trying to sell their album so they could eat while they were on tour.

Frankly, their music was crap. But I feel good knowing that people can eat. So I asked if I could give him five bucks but not get his album. He was a little confused—perhaps hurt that I didn't want his music, but accepted my money. He also seemed miffed when I observed his video and said: "Hey! You guys are fully clothed and running down a serene beach! You've made it!"

A few hours later when I left the show, the guy was still standing out there. He didn't recognize me at all, even after my odd request and our several-minute conversation. He asked me for money again, using the exact spiel he'd given me the first time. I told him I didn't have any cash. He told me that wasn't a problem—he was prepared to accept credit cards. At that point I shrugged, shook my head and said "It's just not happening, man."

Did Maddie handle this situation gracefully? No. It was probably pride on her part. She was irritated that he didn't remember her, and it's safe to say that her ego enjoys making an impression.

What you can do is find a happy medium between Maddie's bulldozing and your collapsing. Make eye contact with the people. Smile and say hello. You can even stop and tell them you think they're doing great work. Then walk away confidently and do your grocery shopping. You do not owe them an explanation.

If you REALLY can't do this, then carry around a roll of quarters for abundant distribution.

Quarters are the new dimesinflation.

We are sure that you have lots of experience and thoughts on this matter.
Please share.

Maddie and Lisa


  1. Maybe it’s living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, but I give when I feel His urging—an urging that keeps nudging me and won’t leave me alone.

  2. I don't carry cash. My cash goes to the needy...the Mari/Laury needy-to-be-giddy fund. No guilt, no shame.

    If God wants you (me, we, us)to give, that's a different story, but I'm sure you would feel the nudge from the Holy Spirit prompting you.

  3. That's some seriously good wisdom, Mik Chiks. If it really is social pressures that are prompting us to give, that awkwardness is totally something that can be overcome. Ignoring the Holy Spirit when He prompts is another coNUNdrum entirely.

    You can do this, Dwindling Pockets. Looking deeper at the situation and keeping the "bottom line" in mind ("you need to make mental/spiritual peace with yourself") will help A LOT. I've seen some of these at-the-door charities hand out stickers or tags that donators can wave the next time they pass by, kind of like a supportive marker that allows them to pass guilt free. I like those... just makes the whole transaction easier. Maybe find a suggestion box or send an email to the charity?

    And I must disagree with something (gasp!). I like the way Maddie handled that guy - straightforward, honest and pretty gracious, right up until the point where he lost touch with the very people he was trying to reach. All egos aside, sometimes you just have to shake your head and say "It's just not happening, man."

  4. What do you think of when you think of the phrase, "crucifying the flesh"? It pertains here as much as it pertains to over-eating, lust, anger, or believe reality shows are reality. There's something in you that needs to die, whether it's being what the Bible calls a "man pleaser", general insecurity, inferiority, whatever. That's not coming down on you, just hoping to shed some light where it can help.

    I've struggled with this, too. Sometimes I still do. But when you really know who you are, when you get that straight from God, and start really living it out, this stuff fades away. You don't have to crucify it, it's more like you watch as it goes down the drain. So that's my prayer, that you have a new vision of who Daddy is, and who you are.,

  5. Dwindling Pockets, your heart is showing here. You've received some good advice though. Just follow your conscience, along with your heart.

    It bothers me when I'm asked at the grocery store if I want to donate to a worthy cause. I must admit that it embarrasses me a little to say that I don't. I try to give generously to the charity at my church, where I know that the money is carefully spent, and to take groceries to the food cupboard there regularly. For some of the various charities outside the church seeking funds, I never know how much is actually getting to those with needs.

    For the grocery store where we go, at Christmas time my husband gives a good donation the first time the Salvation Army bucket is out and gives a big smile as he speaks to the man (usually the same one all the time), who's collecting. Then that man smiles at us as we walk by again and again without guilt.