It is extremely exciting that Relay for Life has finally come to Framingham State. The cancer-fighting fundraiser does a lot of good all over the world, with four million people in over 20 countries participating each year, according to its website. Bringing the organization to FSU will give a lot of people an opportunity to do good in this community and will hopefully continue in the future to, as Wednesday’s fundraiser put it, “flush away cancer.”
This is why it hurts to say that said fundraiser in the Dining Commons was a major misstep. That’s not to say it didn’t raise money – in fact, I hope it did, along with the other fundraiser happening just outside the McCarthy Center.
The difference is those behind the outdoor fundraiser didn’t rely on guilt and shame as their solitary strategy.
Student volunteers wheeled a decorated toilet from table to table, condescendingly warning diners that it would stay there until given five dollars then abandoning it to sit there. No, not any donation or whatever one could afford to give – only five dollars was enough.
The obvious objective here is to make everyone sitting with the toilet look and feel like a huge jerk, and nothing screams charity and goodwill like public shaming, right?
Many students, myself included, don’t even carry cash on campus if they know they will just be going from a meal to class and then back to their room. Often, if someone isn’t leaving campus, they don’t need money on them at all.
After all, one must figure that even if one comes across something that prompts a donation without cash, it’s not like the people asking for money would make a spectacle of it. If they were inclined to get some cash, they could go to the ATM… anywhere but the Dining Commons, where leaving means that the meal is over.
In this situation, deliberate use of guilt – especially a shotgun spread specifically designed to hit everyone regardless of financial situation or previous donation – seems decidedly unnecessary and mean-spirited.
Even with all of this said, I get it. I really do. Motivating people to give up their money, even to a great cause like Relay for Life, is hard. It can even be frustrating. It can feel like deniers just don’t have a good reason not to donate, or even like they’re bad people.
I’m sure you’re good people, fundraisers, so be better than this.
Keep your tactics out of the toilet.