When I selected Oxfam to be the donee of the proceeds from my first Thanksgiving Day Yoga Fundraiser ten years ago, I took into account that its mission is to “create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice,” which seemed to me deeply related to what I believe is the best aspect of the history and tradition of making a holiday of thanks giving (leaving aside the shadow side of the history). Last night, when I was writing the newsletter inviting all to come and join me for the fundraising class, I thought about whether some readers would wonder why the donee of the proceeds wasn’t being changed to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or other reputable organizations that are out in the field helping those known to us who are closer to home and are still suffering from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.
Over the past few months, in ever increasing quantity as the elections approached, I received several emails a day and sometimes in an hour (and if I had been willing to answer the phone, calls) pleading for me to donate money and time. For some, it was asking again and again, even though or perhaps especially because I had given generously already. In the face of an unexpectedly large disaster, we cannot help but wish we could do something to help. Not surprisingly, I am feeling a little of what they call in the business “donor fatigue,” and I expect that many others feel the same. It is important, when faced with urgent cries for help, to remember that the preexisting calls on our resources have not gone away (newspaper reporting and the absence thereof notwithstanding). I do not question for a minute that those who are able to do so should share some resources with those whose homes and lives have been turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy, but it is also important to remember and continue to support the causes that are not today’s news.