Is there a “right” way to give?

As some of you may have read in my Twitter stream, I’m participating in the #DonateRIF movement. From now until December 31, 2010, I will donate $1 to Reading is Fundamental for every new Twitter follower I get – up to $200.

When I decided to join this meme and sent out a tweet on Dec. 21st, I didn’t think that there would be any negativity or backlash because of it. It’s a genuine campaign started by Jason Pinter, an author of a best-selling book series. His thought? To get writers and editors on Twitter to get involved in a fund raising campaign that benefits a children’s literacy non-profit. It’s all good, right? The only thing missing is puppies and rainbows!

So I was taken aback when an AV industry colleague replied with “Cause is great there, but just make sure you donate that $200 regardless if you get 200 new followers.” Huh? Now, Scott is a nice guy and we’ve had great Twitter conversations in the past. But this was someone who wasn’t involved in the campaign that was (1) outright telling me to donate what I pledged no matter what, and (2) implying that I may not do that.

After a few back and forths, it turns out that the concept of donating X amount of money for X followers really bothers him. He doesn’t hate charity and he doesn’t hate reading, he just hates that money-for-followers memes “makes the motive look less genuine.”

I disagree with such a black and white view on charitable giving. But it did get me thinking: Is there a “right” way to give? And whose business is it to dictate who gives what and when?

For me, this #DonateRIF campaign is not about acquiring followers. I’m not one to keep track of my follower count on a daily basis. I checked on my follower count for the first time in a long time yesterday (1,153) so I could keep track of my daily donations to report to Jason.

This campaign is about turning people’s attention to a great cause (children’s literacy) and by allowing people who may not have $1 to give, to click a button and know that they were able to do some good. If they un-follow me on 1/1/11, then so be it. No hard feelings, but thanks for paying attention to Reading is Fundamental.

People who know me and my husband also know that we give our time and money to support a variety of charities – Best Friends Animal Society, American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Gulf Restoration Network, Meals on Wheels, Globe Santa, and the programming activities at our local library. Are we wealthy beyond our wildest dreams? Absolutely not. But we have enough and give what we can.

Other people may or may not agree with the charities we support, or they may not agree with how we support them. Bottom line is: There’s no right way to give.

It’s easy to point a finger and say negative things, but it’s much harder to loosen your grip on a few bucks or a few hours of your time for the benefit of strangers. I believe in the common good; I believe that you get what you give. The mechanics of giving is up to each person who has cleared the hardest hurdle: they’ve made the decision to give.

So, if you’d like to donate to Reading is Fundamental without following anyone on Twitter, you can do so by clicking here and donating to them directly.

Or you can click here to get to my Twitter page, follow me, and I’ll add another $1 to the pot.

Your choice. Either way, thanks for making the decision to give.

Post-publication edit: Added charity links and for a list of others who are participating in the fundraiser, click here.

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