Are we more willing to open our wallets than our hearts? By Anneke Jagau
One of my first student jobs in the Netherlands was working as a fundraiser for a big international development organization. My job was to ‘attack’ people on their stroll through the mall with graphic images of poverty. Swollen bellies, torn clothes, desperate eyes. The kinds of disturbing, stomach-twisting images that have frequently been used by non-profit organisations to stir up emotion and full the fundraising coffers.
My favourite people to ‘attack’ were those with burgers, milkshakes or any other kind of fast-food in their hands. I would play the guilt trick by asking them if they knew how much they could do for someone living in poverty with the money from that drink or burger. I would tell them, holding my placard, that if they could afford to spend their money on expensive fast-food, they could surely afford to give 5 euros to help someone in the developing world. Often they would sign up, generally just to get rid of me or get rid of their guilt.