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02/15/2005 Archived Entry: "Snippy."
Posted by CKL @ 01:52 PM PST

Two months ago, while DeeAnn and I were kicking around the idea of creating a charity registry so our wedding guests could donate in our name, I signed up and created a fake list of charities at justgive.org. I also added a note on our fake registry about the fact that they charge a $5.00 for their services and also deduct credit card fees from the amount of each donation, and included direct links to the charities I'd listed so people could, theoretically, donate directly to those groups, without incurring the overhead charges.

We ultimately decided against doing a charity registry, and just sent this note to our guests:

[T]hese are some things we would love to receive: ... The knowledge that you've helped someone who is less fortunate than we are. We live a good life, and would like others to have the same opportunity. Now, far be it for us to tell you to whom you should donate-- if you have a pet charity, you know already; if you don't, we'd rather not influence you. But if you're short of ideas, helping tsunami victims would be a good place to start.
I had forgotten all about the fake justgive.org registry, which we weren't using at all, until I received this email today from their "Senior Creative Director & Nonprofit Liaison":
We noticed your message to your wedding guests on your JustGive Wedding Registry page and thought perhaps you'd like to just delete your registry and instead send your charity list to your guests via email. We provide this registry for free to couples and deduct a credit card fee that we have absolutely no control over. It's true that out of a $20.00 donation, $19.40 is sent to the charity, but your request to your guests that they make a credit card donation directly to the organization reveals that you just don't understand credit card fees in general. [Snippy much? -CKL] Whenever there is a credit card being used, the vendor (in this case, the nonprofit) pays a fee. So, whether donors use JustGive to process donations or a nonprofit to process donations using a credit card, there is a fee that the credit cards companies/banks demand. We do not keep that fee. Your suggestion that your guests send a check, however, would eliminate that fee altogether, but again, if that's what you'd prefer they do, we'll just remove your JG registry since ultimately you won't be using our service.

As far as the $5.00 fee, JustGive is a nonprofit organization providing a service to both donors and nonprofits. We have sent over $20 million to nonprofits, many of it new money that they would not have seen otherwise (through partnerships and unique services). [Defensive much? -CKL] If we did not charge for some of our services, we simply would not be able to survive. We encourage you to either educate your guests about the true nature of our fees or simply remove your registry altogether.

I seem to have a talent for bringing out the worst in people who claim to be nice. Then again, I did call them "bottom-feeding scalawags" in my fake registry notes. I honestly hadn't expected anybody to read that, since (this is important) I never published a link to that fake registry. I never told our guests about it, I never linked to it from our wedding web site, I never made any effort to disseminate my remarks, which I believed to be private.

In fact, how did this person find out about my admittedly ill-advised notation? I suppose someone might have gone to justgive.org and searched for our names, but would that someone have then emailed the "Senior Creative Director & Nonprofit Liaison" about it? Was one of justgive.org's employees reviewing their database records for some reason? If so, why would they have been looking at my fake registry, which shouldn't have been getting any traffic or otherwise attracting attention? Seems a little fishy...

Anyway, here's my suggestion to anybody in customer service: Do not insult, demean, or otherwise aggravate your current or potential customers. I mean, if I actually had been using justgive.org's registry for real, and I had received the email above, I wouldn't just be blogging about this, I would be alerting the media. I would be telling everyone I know to stay away from justgive.org, because it's clearly not worth it, either financially or personally. (I might even maliciously publish the email address and phone number of the "Senior Creative Director & Nonprofit Liaison", in the hopes of publicly humiliating that person. But probably not, since I hate spam and am loath to inflict it upon anyone.)

I'm sure justgive.org is a good organization, but you certainly wouldn't know it from the email above, would you? If I were the "Senior Creative Director & Nonprofit Liaison" for an organization, and one of my customers complained about my services, I would try to persuade them to remain a customer instead of suggesting that they stop doing business with me. But maybe that's just me.

In the end, since I really don't care about them one way or the other, I simply deleted my justgive.org account-- I wasn't using it anyway-- and am now moving on.

Remember, kids: Working for a "good cause" does not give you license to cop a holier-than-thou attitude.

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