So this is totally about the Bill Gates Reddit Secret Santa thing. It is also about the trend of donating to charity and then giving notification of that to someone and calling it a gift. The only person who gets to decide on charitable donations instead of gifts is the person who would receive the gifts. (Unless they have passed away, because donations in lieu of flowers is a good thing. Really. This is not that.)

Giving someone the gift of making a charitable contribution if it wasn’t on their wishlist is stupid and petty and really lame. I don’t have a problem with publicity, I have a problem with the fact that every report I’ve read on this makes it pretty clear that her real gift was having “Bill” as a Secret Santa … and I think he knew that and planned to get more exposure for Heifer International all along.

Which is fine because we should all buy something from Heifer International as not a gift and then tell our friends to buy some not gifts so we don’t act like it’s the dollar menu at McDonalds and try to feed as many people’s hearts as possible on one gift.

I’m not screaming for a call to action, here. I am screaming for a call to perspective.

If you consider your charitable gift to your friend or secret santa your act of charity and your gift recipient does too? That is one less potential animal going to someone that really, really needs it.

Bill Gates can give cows on the regular to whomever he wants. Not as gifts. We already have his Foundation’s name in our faces when we watch PBS or listen to NPR. We get it. You’re not an anonymous donor because, well, that would be way to classy? I honestly don’t have an answer for that. Bill is ALL OVER this charity.

I mean, you don’t see people taking pictures of themselves putting money in the Salvation Army hanging can and giving that in a card so you can both share in the magic of giving, do you? Just because he dropped $500 on a cow doesn’t make it different, does it? The rules shouldn’t change just because he’s famous and/or rich, should they? I think he’s getting a pass because he’s rich and famous and OMG it’s a cute stuffed cow to represent how awesome Bill Gates was in your name.

But hey, I’m glad another family got a cow.

The thing is, I have been told that people give to others less fortunate because it makes them feel good. Two people feeling good from one act of charity is one act of charity short. Someone shouldn’t be feeling like they gave at work is what I’m trying to say. 

If you give charity as a gift it’s like a two for one sale and less people are getting helped from you and your pool of friends. Overall, I’m sure the gifting is helping donations and I don’t think Heifer International should stop pushing the gift angle at all because people are horrible and this lets those “look at me” folks get the most “bang” for their charity/gifting “buck.” It’s an awesome program if, like me, you believe the end justifies the means.

I’m just saying that the people who use the program should realize they could do better and giving the gift of charity does not make them a good person

If you wouldn’t buy anything from Heifer International unless it was a gift, you need to get your heart straight because A) Everyone knows anonymous donations are the classiest. B) Sitting around as a family and patting each other on the back in your warm house with your food on the table and lamenting the life of the poor child or family you bought a cow for IS NOT A GIFT.  

It’s an emotional circle jerk. 

It’s kind of disgusting. (But again, still buy it because you can be disgusting & help people and that’s better than nothing. Natch.) But the warm glow of people looking at you like you did a cool thing and the warm glow of doing good for another human is not what you think it is if you think it can be created by giving someone a letter that says a cow was donated in your name.

There is one exception to being a jerk for giving the gift of lazy altruism. If you get each other cows, I can’t really complain. If you get each other cows and a barrette I’ll be happier. (Unless it’s pre-agreed on in lieu of gifts, I covered that up top there. If everyone does it then that’s the right person to goat donation ratio.)

Why would you accept that a gift is necessary and then get someone NOT A GIFT? Charity is a thoughtless gift. It is an amazing thing to do privately and from your own heart, but it is a lazy, lazy gift.

I know that this is a thing and people want to feel good and that’s fine. I just think it’s kinda sick to get your philanthropic rocks off feeling bad for some poor, starving child at a Christmas get-together because dude hypocrite am I right? I think it’s great that Heifer donations are probably up from doing things this way. It’s like holding up a picture of a starving child you give a dollar a month to and screaming, “LOOK AT ME I’M SUCH A GOOD PERSON! ARE YOU NOTICING NOW? HOW ABOUT NOW?”

I don’t have a problem with Heifer International, I have a problem with people who think Christmas is the only time go give, publicly is the only way to give, and using it as a two-for-one “look what I did for you so my conscience is in the clear and it’s for you so they’ll name the cow after you and your conscience is in the clear, too” Gah.

This is not about someone being rich. It’s about someone regifting charity, which is a gift that should be given once and from the heart. 

Do you have extra money and a big heart? Why not give a life-changing gift of some chickens…or a goat…or a cow. Don’t pawn it off on someone else as a gift. Do good to do good, not to take a picture and show it off on Reddit.

One other thing. Yes, I know she also got a sweet, autographed travel book. My problem is with “The Gift of Charitable Giving” and not the gift overall. (Because let’s be honest, it’s better than that time I got Bonnie Bell lip smackers from my secret santa and I was like uh…I’m in my 30s what IS this madness?) I would like to end this post how I started this post…the person who received these gifts is happy and thrilled. I wish her all the best. I do not think she should have gotten more or different, I just think this trend is sickening, because it is so barely better than nothing.

I’m over people giving each other charity because it’s not a real gift. It is not teaching altruism, it is getting your happiness from the suffering of others. Then giving that same suffering as a gift to someone else. Unless your whole family has made a pact to do charity, which is fine, you shouldn’t be the one person coming to the table with the quirky new way to capitalize on someone else’s need.

Donate to Heifer International because you want to help others. Encourage others to give from their hearts, too. Don’t try and pawn your caring gesture off as a gift to someone else. Charity is a beautiful gift that is only tarnished in the regifting.

2 Comments on Giving Heifer International as a Gift is a Horrible Idea

  1. You are out of your mind. Is an anonymous donation more altruistic? Fine. Giving to charity in someone’s name is not “sickening. ” It’s still helping others. You have mental issues.

  2. “I’m not screaming for a call to action, here. I am screaming for a call to perspective.”
    It would seem that some people don’t want to have perspective. I find this sad. But scream on. Maybe someone will listen. 🙂

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