Enough is enough: Political campaigns hurt charities
If you are like me, you have been victim to a continual shakedown by politicians this year. You are working hard, not taking your vacation days, to keep your business afloat and your staff employed.
Yet when you get home at the end of the day, most often at night, and want to chill for a few moments to recharge your batteries, you might turn on the television and be bombarded with political advertising, nearly all of which demonizes the candidate’s opponent. So, you turn the television to a streaming channel, such as YouTube, to listen to some relaxing music, only to be hostage every couple of minutes with an interruption from a nasty political ad.
This is on top of the incessant text messages, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, hassling you for more money for political advertising with promises of out-of-galaxy matching dollars. Of course, the multiple daily flyers in the mailbox and the vomiting of yard signs along the major roadways add to the insanity of message overload.
And the message is almost always a character assassination of one’s opponent.
Enough is enough.
Just a single political campaign, the United States Senate race in our state, is expected to top $200 million dollars for a state with a population of five million. That is just one race. It is absurd. Or, as a friend reflected, “It’s sinful.”
Another particular annoyance is that, having given to local candidates of both major political parties, both party systems have dispersed my contact information to their other party candidates across the country, who solicit me by phone, email and mail every day and night. Sharing donor information without their knowledge and/or after they have instructed you to stop is unethical in the nonprofit field. But, we are talking about politicians, right?
The constant barrage of advertising and solicitations has all but drowned critical messaging from charities across our state and every community in the country.
Most charities depend on fall fundraising, which is a philanthropic culture established by the Puritans in the America from the early beginnings of the nation, as the most critical time of year to raise the majority of funds for their charitable efforts. This is why we see United Way and Combined Federal Campaigns, along with other fundraising initiatives, take place in the fall.
Back to the U.S. Senate race in South Carolina — imagine what $200 million from this single race could do during this pandemic year. Feed the hungry, educate children in math and science, establish back-to-work training programs for people who have lost their jobs, fix the state’s struggling education system, pave roads across the Palmetto State, launch domestic violence initiatives, support businesses that are hanging on by a thread or have closed due to the pandemic, help renters keep their residences and from being evicted by no fault of their own, build animal shelters to save the lives of innocent animals and much more.
Disgustingly, the bulk of these political campaign funds go to purchase media for the purpose of attacking the character of the opponent. Perhaps a much simpler and vastly cheaper way of searching for a measurement of one’s character is to ask candidates to list their charitable donations and activities for the past ten years or five years for younger candidates. I suggest this contributes to an assessment of character as much, if not more, than anything else.
Meanwhile, charitable organizations’ messages have been all but muted during this year by politicians’ record-breaking fundraising campaigns during this year of recession, historical unemployment and financial distress. Do they have no shame?
Straining charities further is the restrictions of fundraising events due to crowds. We all know that fundraising events are critical to funding charitable work. For example, due to Covid-19 restrictions, Charleston Animal Society has not been able to conduct its weekend adoption and other special events nearly every week of the year, its spring gala or its famous Celebrity Chili Cook-Off with 6,000-plus participants at Riverfront Park.
These fundraising events account for approximately $1.3 million dollars for Toby’s Fund, the Animal Society’s medical fund to care for the nearly 10,000 animals it shelters each year.
Thus, this year, the Animal Society is pivoting by hosting its Chili Cook-Off as a virtual event on Saturday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. on Facebook . We will not give up on the innocent animals we rescue.
For this event to raise successfully the needed funds to care for ill, injured and abused animals, please support this effort by forming a team with family, friends and/or employees or sponsoring the event. You can find out more by visiting www.CharlestonAnimalSociety.org/ChiliCookOff and start saving animals now.
After experiencing the unpleasantness of this year’s overzealous fundraising practices by politicians of both major political parties, in the future when solicited repeatedly for political dollars, I intend to follow an old gesture from a past political figure, “just say no!”
However, I will gladly consider giving to the politician’s charity of choice.
Joe Elmore is executive director of the Charleston Animal Society.