September 20, 2006
There is no excuse for rudeness
While attending a silent auction, I was the top bidder
on a piece of art, writing my name as the final count down
was closing. A charity official was present, approving
and certifying my offer. The person who lost was very upset
and began to make a scene accusing me of cheating him.
The rest of the night he followed my wife and me, telling
seemingly everyone how I had robbed and cheated him. We
chose to ignore his antics and move on. Three days later
he called my wife at her business looking for me. I phone
him and was called "thief," "rat," etc.
He is a lawyer, and his wife a member of the charity's
board of directors. I assume he used his influence to obtain
our personal information to continue harassing us. Two
integrity questions: Do charities have any obligation to
protect a donor's personal information? Have we become
a nation of arrogant poor sports?
Yes, protecting donor privacy rights ought to be standard
operating procedure. My advisor, a nonprofit CEO, was
very clear about organizational accountability, possibility
liability, when she heard of your unpleasant encounter.
She stated: "Other than reporting laws requiring
record-keeping, information about donors is kept private
unless specific consent has been given."
Discretion and professionalism are hallmarks of organizations
that value donors. To underscore your desire to avoid
any future unpleasant situations, let the charities
of your choice know your expectations, up front, in
Arrogant poor sports are not unique to charitable events.
Bullies can be male or female, young or old. Unfortunately,
our frequently overly-tolerant society rewards those
who intimidate with disproportionately high amounts of
pleasure, wealth, fame and power. Your circumstances were complicated, so it
appears, by the immature response of an angry man who turned a simple disappointment
into a challenge to his macho identity.
His abusive tactics demonstrated no integrity.
Ugly behaviors, like what you describe, occur way too
Good-hearted individuals want to give and enjoy seeing
and feeling the impact of their generosity.
Making sure all participants know how to behave supportively
and graciously in public events is a positive step. Erosion
of civil behavior, even when folks are decked out in
their finery, will soil the most elegant of events and
besmirch the image of the charity being supported. Children
are (or at least used to be) disciplined when they did
not play well with others. Sounds like your "fellow
bidder" left his manners at home and needs a good talking to - soon.
Leaders of integrity-centered organizations, including
charities, establish and enforce clear donation and bidding
rules, motivating and retaining valuable supporters.