9 May 2013

Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of people who are involved in the Komen 3 Day Walk and many who are committed to participation in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and have become Facebook friends with several of them. There are numerous groups on Facebook where walkers and crew can communicate, swap stories, share ideas for fundraising, and help new walkers with all the little details about what the walks are like, and what camp is like.

Facebook is a tremendous resource and is a great way to keep people connected.

It’s also a place where a lot of fundraising takes place. A lot. Sometimes it’s only the mentioning of a particular fundraiser going on, other times it’s a plea for help reaching a minimum goal. People have different ways of asking; some simply mention they’re walking, and please donate. Some have raffles. Some beg. Some beg hard.

Some…they post multiple times a day about the events, and they often do it outside of the dedicated walking and crewing groups. They ask for donations, they cite statistics, they offer up pictures and personal anecdotes…it feels like nonstop singular-topic posting.
I don’t know how many times I can ask. This disease is taking so many good people. I desperately need donations so I can do this walk. Why aren’t more people donating to me?

I think I can sum it up in two words:

Compassion Apathy.

People don’t want to be beat over the head with anything, even if it is a worthy cause. They get tired of hearing about it, even if it’s a cause they share a belief in. And at some point, all the posts about needing donations and the statistics and the minutiae simply become static.

People stop responding because they stop seeing; they’re peripherally aware that those posts are still there and in their FB newsfeed, but they scroll right past because they’ve seen it so many times that it no longer really registers.

The most successful fundraisers on FB I know are the people who post once a week or so. They don’t beg. They simply state that this is a cause important to them, and they are X number of dollars away from their goal. Instead of 90% of what they post being about their need for donations, 99% of it is not.

Those are the people who seem to reach their goals early on.
I’m so tired…every weekend is filled with events to raise the funds I need to walk. I’m missing so many of my kids’ activities, but I lost my mother to this disease and I don’t want someone else to lose theirs.

I get that, I really do. I understand that drive, and the grief-laced agony behind it. But people, if that’s you…you lost your mother to breast cancer. If your life revolves around fundraising for these walks, if you’re missing out on that much of your kids’ lives, they’re losing their mom to it, too.

Think about how much you miss your mom, how many times you wish she were there to see this thing happen or be there for that celebration. Now look at your kids…they need their mother to be there for their own milestones. If you’re missing their games and their celebrations to stand out in front of a grocery store where you’re asking strangers to give you money or you're at a restaurant hoping to get host-funded donations—and it’s on most weekends—take a step back and take a deep breath.

The finding of a cure, the funding of medical care, the money needed for all that is not and should not be riding on your shoulders.

Be present in your own life.

None of this should be that hard. No one should have to miss their kids’ lives through half the year in order to raise money to participate in 2 or 3 or 4 walks. No one should have to beg so hard that their friends begin to just not see what they’re posting.

Hell, I’m as guilty as anyone; when I get involved in something, I tend to really get involved. I focus hard on what my goal is. And then I worry about the number of times I blog about it, and I try to keep the FB mentions to a minimum.

But, damn, if you’re raising money for anything, you have to weigh the risk of engendering compassion apathy against the potential of returns. And you have to remember that when the event is over, you probably want to remain friends with the people from whom you’re asking donations.

I don’t know anyone who is opposed to finding a cure for breast cancer. But the involvement in the cause is a balancing act, and some of us?

Some of us are tipping to the wrong side.

Pick one walk, maybe two. And then engage in real life. It's already short enough, and we all have people who deserve our time just as much as do the people for whom we walk.


Char said...

I can see both sides. I've always hated the bombardment of donation pleas and never minded the once in a while requests, but for someone who has lost their mother, it's got to feel urgent.

But you're right. There are too many out there whose kids are losing a parent to the effort. And I don't care how important the cause is, it's not worth pushing your kids aside for. I say that as someone whose mother found things better to do than raise her daughter.

Angel and Kirby said...

Very nicely stated. I am more likely to donate to someone that states that they are x away from their goal. I know people that spend more time begging and fundraising then they do with their families and it is just sad to see.