I had a chap come to the door a few weeks back, asking for money.
It was for some nearby sports club which I was vaguely aware of - I pass it on the way to McDonalds - and in return for giving them some cash they would enter you into a competition to win something or other. I was in a reasonable mood and the guy didn't talk for too long about the good cause so I gave him whatever it was he wanted, he gave me a leaflet with a number on which I kept hold of in case I won a prize (yeah, like that happens!), and he went on his way.
I didn't think any more of it until the other night, when another person came to the door.
"Hi, I'm here to collect your subscription!"
um.... what?!? I thought. It felt like the man was the representative of some sort of protection racket that I had accidentally become involved in, and I wondered momentarily if declining would result in my car being keyed or having some other such misdemeanour visited upon me.
Well, it turns out that the first guy had signed me up for a monthly payment to support the sports club. Now, I'm more than happy to admit (on this blog, not to the mans face) that the first chap could well have talked about a subscription to me. You see, I am in the habit of only listening to conversations for as much as I think is necessary. When someone talks to me about a good cause, I can generally summarise the discussion down to:
I promote a good cause and I want you to give me some money
And beyond that, I don't really pay too much attention. Good causes are generally something I am, within reason, happy to support, It's fairly unlikely that I'll be approached to donate to The Dog Poking Initiative or The Slap a Person Charity, so I generally figure that they're probably going to do something good with the money, and as long as they haven't annoyed me, and don't want too much of my disposable income, I'm happy to help. I think part of this view comes from shopping with my grandmother - when we used to go shopping at a weekend, quite often at the supermarket there would be some good cause doing a bag pack.
If you're not familiar with a bag pack, it consists of a group of children, probably from a local scout troop or cricket club, who would badly pack your shopping in return for some change. My grandmother would always want to know if it was a good cause, and I suspect that if it was down to her, she would only accept the offer of help if it was a charity that she approved of (usually a Donkey and Mare sanctuary - I'm not sure why donkeys and female equines are something she views so positively, but of course she's entitled to her opinion), so I took great delight in accepting child labour from any local cause, because it might have irritated her, and done it in such a way that she couldn't reasonably complain to me about it.
Anyway, I digress. I explained to the man collecting subscriptions that I had been under the impression that I had just donated some money to the sports club to be entered into a raffle of some kind. The first thing he was very quick to correct me on was that "it's not a raffle, it's a prize draw!"
Of course, the wonder that is the internet allows me to discover what is the definition of a raffle and of a prize draw. According to the Collins English Dictionary, a raffle is "A raffle is a competition in which you buy tickets with numbers on them. Afterwards some numbers are chosen, and if your ticket has one of these numbers on it, you win a prize."
Which sounds a bit like a prize draw to me.
And to complete the circle, the Collins English Dictionary says that a prize draw is "a raffle or lottery"
I was planning to decline the mans kind offer to lighten my wallet of money anyway, but the defense of his prize draw as not being a raffle helped me to reach that conclusion at an accelerated pace, and he went on his way sans subscription monies. And I have yet to have any mischief visited upon me.
To be quite honest, the ones I generally find most challenging are the ones that wait in the middle of the high street and try to trap you in conversation during your lunch break so that they can spend your limited time educating you about the difficulties in a certain far away country and how a monthly donation from you could make all the difference - I wouldn't mind so much if it was someone with a collection box and you could just give them a quid and move on, but now you find yourself spending twenty minutes filling in a form with your bank details so you can give them a tenner every month. And then, because they've taken all your contact details as well, you then get bombarded with telephone calls about how this year has been a particularly bad year, and if you could just say yes they can automatically increase up your monthly donation to four hundred pounds because that'll really make a difference.
Do let me know in the comments how you feel about being approached for donations!