Miss Manners: Being charitable doesn’t supplant manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: With all the read-a-thons, walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, bowl-a-thons, etc., I’m frequently asked to make donations and often do so. More often than not, the request is in the form of an email and a link to a website where I can make a donation.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been fundraising myself for a number of charities by participating in multiday bicycle rides. I send out letters and emails with requests for funds. When I get a donation, I make sure that I at least send an email to the donor. After the event, I write a letter recapping the event.

Since I know the effort it takes to raise funds, I give donations to others, including people participating in the same event.

Last year I made a donation to another high-profile rider who sent out an email asking for donations since he was having problems raising the minimum. I responded, and noticed later that he went way beyond the minimum required to participate. I’m certain he was notified of my donation, since the ride sends out emails to the participants when they receive a gift. We saw each other several times while on the ride and he said nothing.

Finally, I approached him and told him, “You’re welcome.” His response was along the lines that he sends out all thank-yous at one time after the ride. I never got one.

Am I assuming too much when I expect some form of acknowledgment from the participant when I make a donation?

GENTLE READER: The dark side of philanthropy is the widespread notion that being charitable excuses one from practicing other virtues.

A frankly taught technique of charitable fundraising is causing embarrassment. And if it weren’t for organizations being required to acknowledge donations for tax purposes, donors would hear nothing from their beneficiaries except repeated requests for more.

Miss Manners is sorry to find that you are not only the victim of this attitude, but also a perpetrator. Your donation did not excuse the rudeness of confronting the recipient with his ingratitude.

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