I recently received an email from one of my relatives. It was actually a forward, written by her 20 year old son, who is, naturally, also one of my relatives. The young man is in college and has joined a fraternity. Like all members of Greek organizations, he’s involved in fundraising. Unlike all college aged students, he’s enlisted his mother to help him fundraise by having her mass email her friends and relatives. Much to my surprise, his mom is willingly cooperating with this.
I am extremely familiar with how my relative was raised because she and I are sisters. We’ve had the same parents. I know for a fact that if either of us had asked our parents to help us with a fundraising project, particularly for a sorority, we would have been laughed out the door. Our dad likely would have been somewhat more willing to help us than our mom would have, but still, I can’t see either of them hitting up friends and relatives on behalf of any of their adult daughters, unless, for some reason, their adult daughters were somehow physically or logistically incapable of doing the work themselves. Even then, their help would have probably been given very grudgingly.
Our dad would have been more willing to help if it was a cause he believed in himself. For instance, when I was in Armenia, serving in the Peace Corps, he did manage to organize a donation of textbooks for my school. I hadn’t really asked him to do it. I told him it was a project I was working on and he took the initiative to hit up all of the local teachers he knew. They sent a nice donation of old English textbooks, some of which were used when I was a student. I got a kick out of looking at the lists of names in the front of the books, especially since I knew some of the people whose names had been written there. Helping me get books for my school was nice of him. However, I can’t see him sending out mass emails for me, mainly because he never learned how to email (despite many, many, many frustrating and fruitless lessons)… and when I was in my 20s, I wasn’t really using the Internet. And also, sending out emails is such an easy thing to do, particularly when you’re presumably sending them to your “warm market” (aka friends and family who know and love you).
I’ve been known to donate to causes when I have the money. I recently gave $100 to a guy I don’t even know because I know he and his daughter experienced a tremendous loss last year when his wife and her mother died of cancer (we have a mutual friend). I donated $200 to a friend’s son who was tasked with burying his mother when she’d suddenly died of a stroke and had no life insurance. I donated at least $200 to a guy I knew in college who was down on his luck and trying to support his ailing, elderly aunt. Sadly, the college friend died suddenly a couple of years ago. I donated $100 to another college friend’s fundraiser for his then infant daughter, whose mother had died of cancer before she’d turned a year old. I even paid for a whole year of SingSnap gold access for an online friend who didn’t have the money to pay for a subscription.
I might have happily donated to my nephew’s cause if he’d taken the time to ask me personally. Instead, he got his mommy to send out a mass email to her many well off contacts. Maybe I’m being oversensitive again, but a request directly from my nephew instead of his mother seems like a small thing to ask. I’m his aunt, and he couldn’t even be arsed to send me a friendly email about what, and how, he’s doing, along with a pitch for a donation to his fraternity’s philanthropy. I know he’s in college and he’s busy, but hell, even if he’d just sent a mass email himself, I would have considered donating. I found the mass email from my sister sent on his behalf lazy, insulting, and impersonal. Moreover, he’s an adult, and perfectly capable of sending his own fundraising emails. So, I decided to ignore the request for funds at this time.
I don’t understand why my sister is doing this. She is a high achiever. She finished high school early by correspondence, because when we were living in England, she was accepted to the Royal Ballet School. After a year of that, she went back to Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary, arranging for everything by herself. She was in the Peace Corps, and has both a master’s and doctoral degree, earned from Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively. All three of her alma maters are highly selective, prestigious schools. She’s lived in several exotic countries and speaks several languages. She achieved a lot of this stuff entirely on her own, and she used to lecture me about not working hard enough and “getting by on my talent”. Why isn’t she insisting that her 20 year old son do his own emailing?
I suppose I could email my sister and tell her this, but she’s 13 years older than I am and doesn’t really take me seriously. I don’t wish to deal with more drama, especially over something like this. It’s just as easy for me to simply ignore the email and vent about it on my little read blog. So that’s what I’m doing. I hope no one minds.
On the other hand, I guess I could also send my nephew an email, letting him know that it’s disappointing to get “forwards” via his mother when he’s the one asking for donations. I think it’s very weak, and this attitude will not serve him well after he finishes college. Maybe this is the way of things nowadays, but I can’t imagine anyone in my generation doing this… certainly not at age 20 (mainly because the Internet was still in its infancy).