Minimalist fundraising – rejecting raffles and accepting donations

I attended a community fundraiser this morning supporting the Red Cross’s work to help the people of Nepal recover from a series of devastating earthquakes. It was fun event, full of community spirit.

Minimalist fundraising

The fundraising featured the usual raffles and auctions. Being in the throes of the Minimalist Game, I viewed the tables of prizes through a different lens. Now, don’t get me wrong, the prizes were lovely, tasteful and good quality. But it was also stuff I don’t need and don’t really want, stuff that would just sit around my house for a few years before I moved it on.

My usual approach is to buy raffle tickets no matter the prize, but now I really don’t want to win! I don’t want to bring the stuff into my house. What to do? On the spot I formulated some quick strategies , which I thought I’d share.

  1. Don’t buy, just give

I steered away from the raffle table and towards a donation box, where I gave the money I would have spent on raffle tickets.

If approached by a raffle seller, I would have felt comfortable saying something like, “Thanks, but no thanks. I am weaning myself off raffles! Where can I make a donation?”.

  1. Take the experience option, but be discerning

I still participated in the silent auctions, but I only bid on experience prizes. Even then I was selective. I only bid on experiences that I’d actually like to do. For me, it was family passes to local nature attractions. A voucher for a beauty salon would be wasted on me, although if you saw my fingernails you might disagree. You see, one of the things I appreciate more and more about clutter is that it’s as much mental as it is physical. An unused voucher for a nail treatment sitting in my purse would weigh on my mind just as much as a physical object stashed in my spare room. I’d just feel bad for not making the time to use it.

I was really fortunate today – it was a friendly and pressure-free environment with many options for giving. I could easily participate without compromising my burgeoning minimalist values. I’m sure future fundraising situations will not be this easy, but I came away this morning feeling great.

Do you struggle to maintain your minimalist stance in the face of social obligations? What are your tips for “low stuff” fundraising?

Advertisements

The week of the Wii – The Minimalist Game days 1 to 7

Week One of the Minimalist Game is in the bag – 28 items successfully out of the house and out of my life. The pace of my de-cluttering this week actually slowed compared to pre-game, but it was still a challenge.

Letting go – the guilt of waste

Twelve out of the 28 items that left the house this week were all parts of a Nintendo Wii game console, its games and accessories. It had been sitting in its box, untouched, since we moved into our current home three years ago.

It should be easy to let go of, right? I haven’t used it and I’m not going to miss it, but it was still difficult. I haven’t been hanging onto it just in case; I’ve been hanging onto it out of guilt. You see, normally I don’t go in for frivolous consumer electronics.

An inner voice chastised me – “What were you thinking spending good money tying up precious natural resources on something totally unnecessary which becomes obsolete almost immediately and is near impossible to dispose of responsibly? You should know better”.

At the time, buying the Wii was a guilty pleasure, but the pleasure is now gone and I was just left with the guilt. I’d been holding on to it in some vain hope that its use would be revived, my guilt assuaged. But it’s been three years, so it’s time to get real. Stepping back, the reality is that I created this waste the day I bought the Wii and hanging on to it wasn’t going to change that. The only difference I could make was what I did about it now.

So I did it – out the door it went. Quickly, before I changed my mind.

Getting rid – to sell or to give?

So I made the decision to get the Wii out of the house – but how? It’s pretty much obsolete, but in great condition and it wasn’t cheap. Part of me thought it should have some residual value and I should attempt to recoup some of its cost.

Stories of the money friends and family have made flogging unwanted stuff on online auction sites rang in my ears. I did some market research, but older Wiis aren’t in hot demand. Maybe I could get $20–50 for it on a Facebook buy’n’sell group. But what happens if it turns out it doesn’t work or some of the bits aren’t there?

What to do? I talked to my husband – “It’s your decision, but personally, if it’s worth less than $100, I give it away. Selling isn’t worth the hassle”. Right that was it, decision made. I listed it on a local free/swap group and a happy dad picked it up at the end of the day to take home to some soon to be very happy kids. It all happened very quickly and I was embarrassingly excited.

I caught the bug, flung open the kitchen cupboards and it was on – Day 30, bring it!

This week I learnt:

  • Feeling guilty about past purchases doesn’t achieve anything – you’ve got to move on and that’s much easier to do without the offending stuff sitting round as a constant reminder
  • Hanging on to stuff you are never going to use to avoid waste is just denial. The reality is, the waste was created the moment you bought it – deal with it (and remember this the next time you’re out shopping).

Week 1 Tally

Day 1 – 1 Wii console

Day 2 – 2 Wii controllers

Day 3 – 3 Wii games

Day 4 – 4 Wii controllers

Day 5 – 1 Wii balance board, 1 Wii fitness accessory, 3 broken pens

Day 6 – 1 plastic container, 1 bowl, 1 plate, 1 food processor accessory for a food processor I don’t own, 1 decorative garlic/ginger grater, 1 George Foreman Grill fork type accessory

Day 7 – 1 empty baby monitor box with instruction manuals, 2 empty packets, 1 broken bottle brush, 1 sippy cup lid, 1 breast pump part, 1 medical gauze

I’m posting daily pictures of my progress on Twitter. You can find me under @AmyMoreTime.

Playing The Minimalism Game

This month I am doing it – I am playing The Minimalism Game.

The Minimalism Game

If you’re not familiar with The Minimalism Game, it’s a month-long challenge to get rid of your excess stuff. On Day 1, out goes one thing; on Day 2, out goes two things and on and on until Day 30, when out goes 30 things. That’s 564 things in total if you keep going for the whole month. You can find out more about the game on The Minimalists website.

But why?

Why am I doing this? Hmmmm, I suspect from around Day 15 that’s a question I will be asking myself quite a bit! In a nutshell, I’m messy, my husband’s tidy and we live in a small house – it works better with less stuff.

We’ve been living in our current home for three years this month and lately I’ve noticed that I spend quite a bit of time rummaging through stuff to find other stuff. I know we have stuff that we haven’t touched in the last three years. Our spare room has become a dumping ground and recently was so packed that at one point I could only stand in the doorway. I have made some great progress in there but I’ve only done the easy stuff. I need to do the hard stuff and so I am playing The Minimalist Game for motivation.

What I want to achieve

For me, it’s not really about the numbers, but at the same time it’s all about the numbers.

I want to attack some clutter hot spots: the spare room, my desk, the pantry and what my husband calls “The Pile” next to my bedside table. Whether I need to get rid of 200 or 500 or 1000 things to achieve that is beside the point.

But at the same time, getting rid of 564 things in a month is really going to test my relationship with stuff. There is definitely a bit of hoarder in me. I find it hard to throw stuff away and I want to understand a bit more about why. It will be this understanding, rather than the total of the number of things I have managed to get rid of that will be the real success for me.

I’ll post weekly updates throughout the month, so if you want to join in, just keep a tally of how you are doing and post your progress below.

Updates

The week of the Wii – The Minimalist Game Days 1 to 7

Help I’m hoarding for the environment – The Minimalist Game Days 8 to 14

The cost of free stuff – The Minimalist Game Days 15 to 21

Be the change – The Minimalist Game Days 22 to 30

Do you have an inner hoarder or are you more of a minimalist? What are your clutter hot spots?