Learning to say no

You learn things from most unexpected experiences. I learnt to say No from such a small but repeated encounters.

I usually get down at a point and walk about 2 km while coming back from work. There is a famous bookstore on the way and few eateries around it. At any given time one can see about 20, 25 people in that area.

Almost every other day one can see a young group of 4 or 5 representing various NGOs talking to people. They will be seen trying to convince them that they are not doing anything to this world and donating to the NGO they represent will help them attain salvation. Now, I am all up for charity. But I refuse to give to any random organization.

My first encounter with them was lengthy. Being a self-proclaimed polite person,  I patiently heard for 15 full minutes before saying that I am not interested. I genuinely wanted to hear what they do but I support another NGO that I believe in.

The frequency of my encounters increased and it was getting a bit frustrating to talk to some NGO rep every day. Time was getting wasted for us both. Over the time, my replies became shorter and crisp. This is the evolution of my replies.

“That is so nice of you people to volunteer but I support another organization”

“Sorry, I support another organization”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already”

“Greenpeace.org? I talked to you already”

“Children’s relief fund? I talked to you already”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already. Didn’t you get enough funds yet? You have been asking people every day”

“UNICEF again? Talked to you last week”

“Already contributed”

“Already contributed?”

“Not interested”



“Lost my job”






There are some questions that keep surfacing in my mind

  • Why do these organizations always need money?
  • Can they eventually help all the people ever?
  • How about the admin costs? Surely not all the people are volunteering?
  • Can there really be an organization that is formed with volunteers only and the money collected is spent completely to the cause?
  • Why do big NGOs like UNICEF ask ordinary people to contribute instead of targeting corporates or wealthy?
  • Does anyone who is contributing even read the financial statement to check where the money is being spent on?
  • How do we choose the organization that we can trust?



Charity – a thought

I recently read this article that is floating around in Facebook. 


It was a humbling attempt by two young individuals who returned from US of A and tried to live below the poverty line.   


The immediate thought, after reading this article, that was lingering in my mind was Charity and how closely it is associated with religions.  Again and again, the Hindu Dharma – law of life – stresses the need of Charity. For any and every function, ritual or ceremony giving away things in charity is an integral part.  Grains, Cows, Clothes are most common things given away in charities.  I have heard similar things from my friends from other religions that they have to set aside a percentage of their earnings for charitable reasons.


It was realized in ancient times only that there cannot be economical equality and a certain mass of people will be dependent on other mass. I presume it was also realized that not all the people will be ready to share their belonging to underprivileged. That could be a reason behind Karma concept and the strict rules in all the religion regarding Charity.   


What does one get out of charity? Not just the tax benefits. You get a sense of satisfaction. I have personally felt this though the contribution was negligible.  Probably this sense of satisfaction/completeness is what drove Warren Buffet to donate considerable percentage of his wealth. On the other side, why don’t people willingly donate?  (1)  People want to save every penny for themselves and their dearer ones in this given economic conditions (2) People do not believe that the donated money is put to use properly (3) A feeling that the under privileged could become complacent  and refuse to progress.  I do not know of any universal solution for this. But I would like to quote translations of two phrases in Tamil – (1) “Know the person before you donate” (2) “Donations and charity comes after self”. The latter one means to save sufficient wealth and give away the rest in charity.


Like the child’s reply in the star fish story, the donations that you make might be very little. But it may mean a lot to the receiver. 


Be Compassionate!!