Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Donation Realism

Uniform groups were out in full force thronging the streets of town early today to solicit donations. I spotted the big three of the lot - NCC, NPCC and SJAB - scampering about trying to get a largely apathetic and behaviourally-scripted town crowd to give up some loose change.

It just struck me, although the underlying implication isn't new, that a hot girl would probably get donations from guys more and a hunk dude would get donations from girls more. People don't rationalize these kinds of one-off donations, so it would therefore only make sense to forgo the whole appeal to organization and authority and instead capitalize on first impressions, attraction and sex appeal. Between a decision to donate and a decision not to in the case of such donation-tin solicitation, first impressions and snap judgments, and unfortunately often very subconscious ones, can mean the difference between getting some moolah or none at all.

I've been in these poor sods' shoes back then in secondary school and the inefficiency induced from trying to skirt the ugly truth of human nature has always frustrated me to no end. I mean, seriously, I wouldn't donate to me if I were a sweaty kid in an ugly green uniform. Forget the uniform groups, employ attractive people instead, and specifically ask the ladies to target the men and the men to target the ladies. Let the uniform groups be involved for politically correct reasons, but keep them at logistics or administration or something else. Even if people are going to criticize the whore-like nature of the whole business, it's not going to stop donations from coming in because first impressions count - I'll bet that people are still going to fall for that charming smile even if they try to consciously remind themselves that it's exploitation out there on Orchard Road and they're going think of plugging into their wallets before they can react. It's all mentally scripted stuff and second nature is difficult to prevent because it's automatic. See an attractive person and your reasoning goes to pot. This is why they plant bikini babes at car shows and IT fairs - to exploit the psychological loopholes on the vast pool of men who will come down. The same will work for women. At any rate, donations will come in at a fraction of the effort, but perhaps at twice the cost of people being unhappy about being psychologically manipulated.

But hey, it's for a good cause! And what's more wrong, charity groups manipulating you into donating, or you not helping just because you were stingey, lazy or turned off by the smelly pudgy kid shoving a tin can in your face (which could be considered additionally wrong because it is an appeal to attraction in the first place)?

On a side note, what I predicted quite a while ago seems to have happened. I never believed that those ticket-style donations, where people would approach you to buy $2, $5 or $10 coupons that would partly give you perks with some food place or shopping centre and partly contribute to beneficiaries, would last. I hardly see them these days. Singaporeans hate having to go out of their way in the first place, and being approached to stop and entertain these solicitors totally breaks the mundane momentum of things. Add taking money out of pockets and it gets worse. I think we only entertained these people for a while because it forced us out of our comfort zones and the novelty of the situation made us unable to react quickly enough to deal with. But once this gets far too played out, people are prepared and can consciously decide not to entertain them (see how this is in contrast with my tin-can donation idea - sex appeal sells because the reaction is an automatic one and cannot be undone if you're normal). Additionally, it's a little dubious where the money really ends up, because the companies that promote the sale of these tickets merely act as agents moving the donations around. Maybe one day, when we're on a clean slate again because there are new generations to fool come about, we'll see these coupon sales again.

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