Friday, December 17, 2004

Not-so-sweet Charity

So what is it about Christmas that brings out the worst in people? I've never been a huge fan of the holiday myself (though I've made my peace with it in recent years)... but every year it seems people just get nastier in the name of peace on earth. Hypocrites.

Here's a prizewinner. I've been so steamed that it's taken me a couple of days to write without gritting my teeth at the same time.

Our chorus is a non-profit organization. Part of our mission involves working with other non-profits in the community to stage benefit concerts, so that we can do good by doing art. Everybody goes home happy.

Well, the problem with being a small, non-profit arts organization in this Age of Dubya is that there just isn't very much money available to support the arts. We didn't receive a single grant this past year, and we are slowly losing money. If we don't start doing some things to benefit ourselves, we'll be broke in 10 years, and no one will get any benefit concerts.

A couple of months ago, our board (of which I am a member) voted to split the profits of our Sunday Christmas concert with the food pantry. We subsequently agreed to cap our income at a certain amount so that the food pantry would receive more. This was explained to the director of the food pantry, who said she understood, and that a gift was a gift. Mind you, the food pantry would still receive several hundred dollars, and that was the lion's share of the income from the concert.

Well, at our board meeting this week, we find that the director of the food pantry, unhappy that we gave her "only" several hundred dollars, had the temerity to complain because she wanted the whole amount of the concert income, and that our gift to her wasn't big enough. Not only that, but she complained to a member of the group (not the board) who also happens to be a business owner and influential member of the community. He wrote a letter threatening not to work with our sponsors any more if we didn't fork over the dough.

The short version of the story goes that the board did end up forking over the dough, so that the director of the food pantry got all of the money, and we got none, and continue to lose money. I hope that greedy harridan enjoys her windfall; it's a shame that families in the county could go without Christmas baskets next year because of this woman's bad behavior. If she doesn't think she's getting enough from the cash cow, she should certainly find another one who might be able to do better for her.

For our part, I hope we find another charity to support next Christmas -- one where they say "Thank you" to a gift instead of "That's not enough -- gimme all you got".

1 comment:

Pirate said...

Oh, these non-profit groups. I hear ya. I was president of a Writer's Group (also vice president, newsletter editor, etc.) for many years, and the final straw came when our treasurer ran off with all our money. I am a professional graphic designer (not working at that currently, but that's beside the point), but when I did up the newsletter at a much reduced rate, I still got raked over the coals for perceived inaccuracies and for having a loose policy of distribution of said newsletter at meetings (the newsletter was supposed to be for members only; call me crazy, but in recruting new members, I didn't want to say to a guest at a meeting, "Have you paid your dues? Are you a member? No? Then it'll be five bucks." Really not all that friendly. Anyway, I think the treasurer in a funny way did us all a favour. It was time for the group to die. What never ceases to amaze me about these groups though is how no matter how much you do, it is those you are doing it for who complain that it is never enough ...