During the last two months and seven days that we have been bicycling the breadth and length of America we’ve had more than a few people ask us if we are bicycling for a cause. “No” we tell them, “we’re bicycling for ourselves.” The fact that they ask shows how widespread this whole “I’ll do something strenuous and you give money to my cause” thing has become. It must make sense to a lot of people because it would have died out long ago if it didn’t but to me it doesn’t add up. How does it follow that if I ride a bicycle 5000 miles, for example, you would want to contribute money to fight breast cancer (for example)? I’m certainly not opposed to people donating money to charitable causes. I don’t even have any objection to people donating money to worthless bums nor do I give a hoot if someone flushes his money down the toilet but what I do not grasp is the connection between me riding a bicycle and you donating money.

To be perfectly forthright, I think there is a kernel of dishonesty at the heart of such an arrangement. If I get all lathered up about a particular charitable cause I should be giving a basket of MY money to the cause – not pestering other people to give their money. If I don’t have much money to donate, I should work very hard and long to earn some money. For that matter, if the donors in this transaction sincerely give a hoot about the cause at hand, why did they need prodding in the form of some guy riding his bicycle? I think a major reason the process perpetuates itself is because the solicitor of charity is utilizing guilt to achieve his end. I suspect many of the donors don’t want to look ungenerous and contribute to avoid the stigma. The solicitation is probably most effective with friends and relatives. In those cases the solicitor is unfairly using his influence. It’s like pestering your soft-touch grandmother for a loan – it’s not right.

In conclusion, I encourage you to give as much to your favorite charities as you can and I will do the same for mine.