What I don’t Like About Pro-Life Fundraising

I recently received an envelope in the mail from Heartbeat International, which is a pro-life organization I have given money to in the past. I admire the work this organization does for pregnant mothers and born and unborn children. However, the contents of this envelope I received displeased me significantly. It contained a return envelope, a letter, a couple of inserts, and a check for $30 made out to Heartbeat International. the following is how the letter begins, “Dear Pro-Life Friend, Enclosed with my letter you’ll find a $30 check. As you can see, it is made payable to Heartbeat International. In a moment, I’ll tell you about Heartbeat International. But first, I want you to know that Heartbeat cannot “cash” the check unless we receive a matching $30 gift from you.” In other words, “if you don’t send us $30, you will be costing us another $30.” This is highlighted by the fact the enclosed check is signed by the president of Heartbeat International. I greatly dislike it when people try to manipulate my emotions, even if the end goal is a noble one. Do not be fooled, this is a blatant attempt at making me feel bad if I do not send them $30. I would prefer them to send me a simple request for money and an explanation of what they do with the money they receive, I can make my own decisions, I can feel my own feelings without organizations trying to stir them up. I certainly do not need organizations trying to induce feelings of regret or failure if I decide not to send them money.

In our society today, there are numerous organizations vying for the contents of our wallets and pocketbooks, regardless of how little is in them. I understand the competitive nature of this fact and the need to try and stand out among the crowd. I also understand that many people are inclined to be complacent and assume that someone else will send the money. I can tolerate the sad stories most of these charitable organizations share in their letters, all in an effort to emotionally persuade you into donating, because these stories are true. They give a direct example of what the organization does with the money you send and the people that are helped by it. I know that they are included as a form of emotional manipulation, but like I just said, they are at least an example of the good that can be done with my donation. However, in my opinion, intentionally seeking to shame people into donating to your cause is a low tactic. It reeks of low character, is devoid of nobility, and is disrespectful to the individual. This is what the letter from Heartbeat International does.

Scripture tells us to tithe, and I make an effort to do just that. My tithing isn’t limited to my church, however, it also includes giving money to causes which I believe the Lord wants me to support. I give monthly to Voice of the Martyrs, whose goal is to spread the gospel around the world, even the dangerous places. I sponsor a child through World Vision International, and I give frequently to Students for Life, the Susan B. Anthony Foundation, and the American Center for Law and Justice, which are all pro-life organizations. I also give to Veterans of Foreign Wars, because our veterans have earned our support more than most, yet our society largely forgets about them. I do not list out these things in an effort to brag or boast about my generosity, but to clearly illustrate that I am someone that supports these types of organizations. Therefore, I am not coming at this letter from Heartbeat International from an anti-life or anti-fundraising position. My hope is that the kinds of tactics employed in the letter I received with be thought about more carefully in the future and changed. We are merely humans, our capacity to feel compassion and care is finite, yet our emotions are constantly being pulled in what seems like a thousand directions at once. Letters that employ low-handed tactics such as inducing shame are far from what we need.

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