by EBB on Tuesday, February 16, 2010
These days many a modern mother may feel inundated by opportunities to commit retail philanthropy. The well mannered mother knows that despite how nicely worded the invitation or how dire the suffering may be, racing off to Bergdorfs or Bloomies for "An Elegant Evening of Shopping for a Cause" will not really save Haiti, fight terrorism, cure cancer, end global warming or prevent under age prostitution in South East Asia. The suggestion that by donating 10% of the proceeds from such an event (gross or net by the way?) these retailers are benevolently facilitating your generosity is a big load of hooey. They are simply trying to drive shoppers into their stores to increase profits in a dismal economic environment. This is fine. Up with Capitalism. And up with shopping. But let's be honest about all this. The well mannered modern mother with a calculator can easily prove that in order for her to donate $100 via retail benevolence she would need to buy $1,000 worth of clothing (assuming the store donates 10% of gross proceeds of course). It makes a lot more sense for her to send $100 dollars to the Red Cross and spend $300 updating her spring look - if this happens via a charity shopping event all the better. There is, of course, a long history in American 'Society' of glamorous socialites attending charity galas to benefit causes, museums, libraries, gardens, and to keep Venice afloat. This is a wonderful pastime and an excellent way to keep billionaires off the streets and out of the restaurants. The well mannered mother of slightly more limited means should keep in mind that charity is charity and shopping is shopping and try not to confuse the two.