It started at the pet store. Would I like to round up the cost of my purchase, and donate my change to the Save The Balding Degu Society? No, I would not. Two weeks later, buying crickets again, I declined to donate to the Guild for the Preservation of Homeless Bearded Dragons; two weeks after that, I said that I would not help out the Chimpanzees Recovering from Ingrown Toenail Trimming Erythema and Rashiness (CRITTER, for short).
It happens at Walgreens too. Would I like to round up the cost of my prescription or my hair product and donate to diabetes prevention? cancer prevention? the fund for eradication of tacky sunglasses at a waterfront near me?
I would not.
Retailers of America: stop asking me for extra money. I'm not saying no because I'm stingy; I'm saying no because giving is really important to me. I can't make good decisions based on the information you're giving me, and so the answer is no.
I predict that within the next few years some investigative journalist is going to write a story in which we learn that a chunk of this "donated" money gets misdirected. I expect it would be easy for an unscrupulous employee to skim it off at the register if a customer is inattentive, or for an unscrupulous manager to send a little less money to the charity du jour than is rightfully theirs. Who's going to know unless somebody goes looking?
It's entirely possible that Food for the Poor or Catholic Relief Services could do something equally unsavory with the larger chunks of money that they get. I do see the potential of microphilanthropy. Maybe I'm just being old-fashioned and crotchety again. But I think it is a really valuable discipline to engage in giving that is planned, a little painful, and private (see the Sermon on the Mount re: right hands/left hands). That's not the way it goes down in the checkout line at Petco.