onigame (onigame) wrote,

In which Wei-Hwa rails against the irrationality of athletic pledges by providing an unorthodox pled

So my personal trainer is doing a "push-ups for Hurricane Sandy relief" fundraising thing at her company. The idea is that each of the trainers pledge to do a certain number of push-ups next Monday (my trainer went for 400). They try to get people to pledge them money to do this, either unconditionally or to be given if they match their push-up goal.

Now, I've never personally understood the reason behind athletic-driven fundraisers. Any time I get approached with something like this, it's always from someone who already is inclined to do something athletic. They are almost certainly going to do their athletic goal *anyway* regardless of how much they actually raise. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say something like "Well, I only reached $500 of my $1000 goal for breast-cancer research, so I guess I'll only run half of the marathon and stop." And, unlike, say, a big company matching donations, the athletic achievement doesn't actually *do* anything for the charity. If the energy in those 400 push-ups were harvested and sold to some energy company with the proceeds donated to hurricane relief, well, that would at least be something. But all that is really happening is
that it's helping some athletic person get even more fit.

In a sense, they're not actually sacrificing anything, but it's coached in such a way as if you're supposed to be guilted into donating to charity. Well, I've got real guilt from not donating to charity, which I can alleviate by donating to charity, so I don't really appreciate having a middleman handing out fake guilt. I really like my trainer, but I don't like how she's part of this system that doesn't make any sense, as far as I can tell.

So, I made an unorthodox deal with my trainer. I will pledge to the cause a maximum amount of $800, to be given out like this: Start with a pot of $400. For every push-up she does on Monday (the day when all the other trainers are doing the pledge), I remove $1 from the pot. For every push-up (up to 400) she does on *Tuesday,* I add $1 to the pot. After Tuesday I'll donate whatever's in the pot. The idea here is that to earn the maximum pledge, she has to give a real sacrifice, which is that she has to endure the peer pressure of needing to explain to all the other trainers (and maybe other donators) why she isn't doing push-ups on Monday like everyone else. Or, more importantly to me, doing something that she *wasn't expecting to do*.

It will be interesting to see how much of the $800 she manages to collect for charity.

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