Last year, I signed Alex up for a free sports program aimed at children with autism. It wasn't a great set up, with classes running only for 5 weeks and a limited selection of choices, but I thought it was a good idea to start getting him back into a regular activity.
As soon as I signed up, I began receiving regular emails asking for donations to support the program.
To a point, I can understand that. Someone has to pay for the programs, and if the cost isn't done up front for the families, then it must be coming in through donations or government grants. But it began feeling like harassment, especially since they only offer a few 5 week programs each year and they were sending out emails every week or two.
This year, they added a new selection to their program, one I thought would be well suited for Alex. I signed him up and got a surprise. In order to sign up for the program, I had to pay a $ 25 annual membership fee.
Okay, again, I frankly would prefer to pay a fee rather than get constantly harassed for donations.
But now I've just been hit with another email asking for a "suggested donation" of $ 15 for every child attending the program.
Now I'm more than a little irritated. $ 40 for a program being advertised as free (and which the group is really pushing as the wonderful thing they're doing for autism families) and which will last only 5 weeks. If it is the same as the last one, more of a "drop your kids off and we'll effectively babysit them for an hour" rather than an actual class, this will be our last venture into this program.
Don't bullshit the public about the service you're offering and then come back and charge the families. Be up front about your costs and include them all at once rather than in dribbles.