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Thread: Consumerism for a good reason

  1. #1
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    Consumerism for a good reason

    I've been wondering about the people on those extreme coupon tv shows. I saw several episodes where their haul was donated to their church or a charity. It's obvious these people love the thrill of the hunt and don't mind spending the time it takes to organize and get the deals.
    It got me thinking that that there are so many non-profits that could benefit from that skill - it would be great if there's a way to get those people matched with a charity so their limited budgets could be stretched.
    For example, in my area there's currently a clothing drive for teens in foster homes. It's a great cause, but it also seems a great inefficiency for individuals to each buy a few packages of full-price socks or underwear and drop them in the donation bin. I bet there's people out there who could figure out ways to use coupons/points/discounts/rebates, etc. and get these needed items at a great price and in bulk.

    In the MMM forum there was a poster who did this for her favorite charity which was an animal shelter. She was great at getting a lot of pet food for almost nothing, but when she tried to teach her method to the staff/volunteers, no one wanted to do it.

    So, people who love shopping as an extreme art could match up with their favorite cause and really stretch the organization's buying power. Everyone wins. Am I missing something?

  2. #2
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    Just that you then have turned this into a who's the best shopper and who can most efficiently use the pooled resources. You have taken out the element of appealing to everyone to chip in something, which is I think why these drives work--that everyone wants to play a part. People like to feel they have personally made a difference, even if the delivery of the charitable service is not as efficient.

    So if someone said, here, go pick a mitten off the mitten tree and pick out a gift for a child, that is a personal connection and I would be more inclined to do it.
    If someone said, give us half of what you would have spent and give it to the pool so we can go buy efficient gifts for children, I would be less inclined to do it.

    Not sure why it did not work with the dog charity. . .

  3. #3
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Often, in my area it is only optional processed items that have coupons, rarely life's necessities.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    What your missing is the most expensive element and the one YMOYL is about, TIME.
    How much time do those shoppers spend between coupons/websites/promotions, etc. Seems like a full time job, where these orgainizations, get a lot of volunteers, with limited time.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    There are definitely more efficient ways of getting resources to the poor than having everyone drop off a can of food for a food drive. I've volunteered a number of times at one of the main food banks here and they are very upfront that they prefer cash donations because they can generally get food for about 1/2 retail price because they are buying in bulk and flexible about what they buy. They also try to focus on providing a fair amount of healthy food which, as was mentioned above, is not generally part of the hyper coupon environment. That said, it's true that having a cash for food drive is probably not going to get donations from as many people as a canned food drive.

  6. #6
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp1 View Post
    There are definitely more efficient ways of getting resources to the poor than having everyone drop off a can of food for a food drive. I've volunteered a number of times at one of the main food banks here and they are very upfront that they prefer cash donations because they can generally get food for about 1/2 retail price because they are buying in bulk and flexible about what they buy. They also try to focus on providing a fair amount of healthy food which, as was mentioned above, is not generally part of the hyper coupon environment. That said, it's true that having a cash for food drive is probably not going to get donations from as many people as a canned food drive.
    Many humans are focused on a physical object, handing it over, or else they do not feel as though they have contributed.Cash is too abstract. They like giving cans of corn to food banks. They like giving useed winter coats to homeless. They like knitting baby blankets for foster babies or some such thing. This is important to the human psyche.

    Our rescue group makes a cash appeal this time of year. We get some gifts of dog toys and dog bones because people just like to shop, they like to consume, it is that connection of buying and gifting that is magical for them.

    I see how much is donated because for 30 years I’ve lived in an inner-city urban environment and I walk the alleys, I check dumpsters. I see mounds of used clothing including winter coats dumped into dumpsters behind the main men’s homeless shelter downtown. I see the scores of canned goods from a Food bank in dumpsters behind one of my tiny houses and a few fresh things like orange juice and milk marked with a name of the food bank so I knew where it came from. Last year I saw at least a dozen large comforters in the dumpster outside of a church homeless shelter, obviously donated. On our beds are two comforters that I gleaned over the years from downtown streets, abandoned by homeless persons. I myself removed stacks of freshly laundered bath towels from the animal shelter’s dumpster at the end of my block and took them home. I use a ton of towels with our dogs.


    Our world is awash in crap.

  7. #7
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I will also add at this time of year when everyone has their hand out I have to remind myself of my charitable goals. I give to animal welfare and historic structures, nothing else. I donít deviate, and it pisses me off that everyone and their brother has their hand in my pocket in their holiday spirit.

    Yesterday my plant society had its annual Christmas party. Years ago someone decided it was a good idea to collect food for a food pantry. I have always ignored this because itís just not my jam. But it occurred to me that I could buy dog and cat food and donate it. I checked with the recipiant shelter and yes, they do handle pet food, so I was able to participate in our group feel good effort and still remain true to my charitable goals.

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    There is a way to donate on the electricity bill to help people with their electricity bill, that appeals to me in a way most charity doesn't (and quite honestly I would have qualified at one point though didn't collect, wasn't that hard up), because people who need help paying basic bills, I can totally understand that. It's not a thing, donating the um electrons? Haha. But basic bills and how they will get paid, yea easy to grasp.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  9. #9
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    That's a great point, to make sure that your giving is in line with your values. I contribute to my old college for that reason and to where I teach, earmarking the money to be used for books for students.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    I can certainly underatand the desire to donate a physical Ďsomethingí whether itís a can of spam, a coat, whatever. Itís much the same as with personal gifts. A guftcard for amazon would be the nest gift anyone might gve me. Itíll get used on exactly what i want. But to the guver it seems terribly impersonal. After all, imagine my thank you email a couple months later. ĎThanks for the amazon gift card. I just used it to buy 1,100 glasses screws and a dongle to convert hdmi to VGA. Merry Christmas!í

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