Entitlement & Fundraising

This morning, a young man knocked on my door asking for pop cans and bottles to raise money for his youth group trip. We don’t have any cans or bottles right now, but I asked about his youth group and his trip anyway. I would have been happy to invest in a youth group that wanted to go and minister in spirit and in aid to the Port au Prince victims of January’s devastating earthquake.

But when the words “Cedar Point” came out of his mouth, I think my disbelieving expression scared him because I hadn’t even gotten the words, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any empties” out of my mouth and he was off the porch and running.

Am I the only one who thinks Christian teenagers shouldn’t just be given money to take a fun trip? If he hadn’t disappeared so quickly, I probably would have invited him to do some yard work in exchange for the money. That would have been more than fair, in my opinion. But to just give money to a kid I don’t know so he can go on a vacation? Nah. I don’t think so. What entitles him to my money? If I wanted to gift it to him, that would be another matter entirely.

What entitles a kid to my money?

I’m not opposed to asking for money. Don’t mistake me on this. Again, I’d have rejoiced to help them buy a goat for a third world family. But Cedar Point? No, you have to earn that.

I struggle with feeling that way, to be honest. My inner voice is debating me even now. She says:

  • When you were a kid, Sar (and even as an adult), others have helped you to do fun things that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. (This, of course, is true! However, the people who have been generous to me have always been church, family, or friends. I never went to someone’s door asking for money for a fun trip. I did raise missions money by empties, but again–not the same.)
  • A youth group needs to do fun things together for the sake of building relationships. (Absolutely! But allow their church members to invest in their relationships. They know, far better, the needs of their own teenagers. Don’t they? And also, they would know whether this youth group has pursued fun trip after fun trip, or whether they’ve just returned from Haiti and now want to have fun. They may very well be deserving of a free trip; but I wouldn’t know them enough to decide, would I?)
  • You’re such a tightwad. (That’s right. I am. I’m allowed to be. Have you seen the economy? Don’t mistake an unwillingness to send someone on vacation for a lack of generosity. If it’s that important to him to make this trip, he’ll find a way to earn the money. )

Cripe. I’m sorry. I just really don’t agree with this. It ranks right up there with television ministries asking for donations.

The organizations and ministries I have given to have almost always been those that haven’t asked for money for their own benefit. Compassion, for example, or Blood: Water Mission.

What do you guys think? Would you have given the kid some money? I may have…if I’d known him. But even now, I’m looking at a photo of my Compassion boy, who just turned eight years old, and I’m wondering when the last time he took a fun trip was?

Sigh. Sometimes I really wish I had lived during some other period in history.

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6 Responses to Entitlement & Fundraising

  1. iceangel16 says:

    I would NOT have given $. Ok maybe I would…but it would have been a few pennies or something like that.

    I agree with your reasons for not giving the money.

    • semmie says:

      It’s not just about the money, though, you know? It’s about the mindset…the attitude…the idea that MY fun is the most important thing; it supersedes all other needs and desires.

      Entitlement! It’s frustrating to me that Christians cannot separate from culture in this regard.

  2. Ray says:

    Hi, my name is Ray, and I am a christian, *hands out*, please insert money here.
    HECK NO!!!…merely ‘using’ the name ‘christian’ doesnt make one deserving of charity. I agree, its not about the money. Its about the recent topics you have blogged; about the role of the church as a community, and a family. I dont know if Cedar Point is a privileged camp, or what it is, but I agree- the young man’s Church should be the chief fundraiser on his behalf.
    This blog is interesting, as I just ran across a random quote:
    ‘Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.’
    ~Albert Camus ~
    Generosity being giving out of our abundance, with a cheerful heart.
    Charity being the ‘entitlements’ you speak of; those obligatory hand outs, merely because the benefactor is a ‘good person’.
    Cheer up, Sarahmoo…you did the right thing. *HUGS*

    • semmie says:

      Hi Ray. I kept meaning to come back to this and reply to your comment, but sometimes I suck at dialogue. But I’m back now. That counts, right?

      Cedar Point: http://www.cedarpoint.com/

      Now…I think I heard recently that there was going to be a Christian Music festival there this summer; or some Christian artists would be performing there/nearby. I certainly don’t bemoan the fact that these Christian kids want to go! I think they should go! I just don’t think they should ask strangers to send them (as you said) based on the “merit” of the name ‘Christian.’

      I don’t necessarily agree with this distinction between generosity and charity; but I DO agree that this is how our culture has come to define (and warp) them both. How disappointing!

      I am thinking about writing a letter to the pastor of that church. What do you think?

      • Ray says:

        Hiya Sarahmoo…..yeah, write the letter. Ask the pastor where the church is positioned on this; how much ‘funding’ they provide to balance any outside donations are received. Ask him where the community of the church is. Myeh, you do better and investigative writing- *I* am just a fanatic. Go get ’em!

      • semmie says:

        Hm. I will think and pray more on this, Ray. I don’t want to be judgmental towards their church at all (in fairness, I’ve heard only great things about that church in the past). Perhaps I’ll write the letter and then ask God if it’s a letter *He* would write.

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