Fish or Cut Bait?

Fish or Cut Bait?

Recently, I discovered that an organization I have been associated with for a number of years has changed its mission and its financial objectives. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but it seems small changes were made over time. Each change was so small that I didn’t really notice till it was glaring in my face. And not only is it glowing in my face, but the same organization suddenly asks for money way more often than they used to. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about supporting an organization that has a mission with which I agree. But when I no longer agree? What do I do? How do I know when to do it? What do I do when I no longer agree with how the money is being spent?

If you’ve never heard the phrase “fish or cut bait,” it’s a saying that means “proceed with an activity or disengage.” It can be used in business…maybe in sales, you have a customer who is taking up a lot of your time and energy in trying to make a sale, and that energy/time might be better spent elsewhere. You have to decide if you’re going to “fish or cut bait,” meaning you have to decide if you are going to continue to pursue the sale or walk away and look for other sales that might have faster, more positive results. In a personal context, if you’re dating someone, there might come a time in the relationship that you have to decide it you want to stick with the person long-term or walk away from the relationship. Kind of like “should I stay or should I go.”

And that’s how I feel about this organization. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth more investment of my time and money, or if I should just walk away, since I no longer agree with the way the administrators are running the show. It’s heartbreaking, because I believed in this cause wholeheartedly…till I didn’t. After all, there are lots of other organizations that I actually agree with, and they would love to receive my charitable donations. I know that any funds I’ve been funneling toward this organization would be welcomed at my college alma mater, my sorority, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or Ronald McDonald House…and I agree with their purposes, their missions, and their spending. But it’s not that easy. I’m personally invested with this particular group, and that’s what makes it difficult. It’s like a marriage almost…you become so invested…and if your spouse slowly changes his/her beliefs about everything you’ve ever agreed upon, how do you know if/when to file for divorce?

No, I’m not filing for divorce…don’t go starting that rumor.

Here is what I finally had to do to come to a decision: I had to sit down and make a list of the things that have changed. I had to sit down and make a list of things I continue to believe in about the organization after all these changes. And after doing that, I could see clearly that there is very little about this organization I agree with in 2022. Because of that, I have chosen to “cut bait.” My charitable dollars and my volunteer time will be redirected elsewhere. Will it make or break the organization? No. They will notice that I’m no longer volunteering for the cause, but they likely won’t even notice I’m no longer contributing money, and that’s OK. I will notice. I will know I am no longer contributing to an organization whose ideals do not align with my own. I will no longer contribute to an organization that, in my view, is no longer being a good steward of the dollars I contribute. I’m not going to start a battle. I’m not going to continue to “fish,” because when I have tried to express my views, they went unheard.

I won’t go out and say ugly things about the organization. I will let their actions speak for themselves. I won’t try to damage their reputation. What they are doing might even be popular; it’s just not popular with me.

And you know what? It feels good. It feels good to know I stand for something. As my daddy used to say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” The quote doesn’t actually belong to him. Alexander Hamilton gets the credit for the origin of that saying. But it’s true. Even by simply changing the direction of my philanthropy, I’m standing up for something.

It’s likely we have all found ourselves affiliated with groups whose ideals we ultimately questioned. I know friends who have lost faith in their employers, their churches, their schools, and charities. Several years ago, our city’s largest charitable organization was involved in a spending scandal and lots of people stopped volunteering and contributing. It happens.

In this situation, I chose to “cut bait,” and it feels good to channel the support elsewhere…to organizations that have ideals in line with my own.

***When becoming involved with a non-profit, it’s a good idea to find out how much of the money you donate is going to administrative costs and how much is actually being used for the mission. Charity Watch is a good place to check. You can see their website here. At the website, enter the name of the nonprofit, and you will see their grade and how they spend.***