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Charity - the Craze That's Sweeping the Nation

Barely a day goes by these days without some sort of charity appeal but is there too much pressure being put on people to supply this needed cash? Giving to charity should be a matter of choice and done where and when the giver decides is right.

One is constantly made to feel guilty; as you pass money collectors shaking a rattling collection box in your direction on the street and as you are confronted by a kindly-spoken collector on your front doorstep, asking you for a paper envelope which was shoved uncaringly through your door the week before and which you forgot to obligingly fill in your rush to complete your daily chores.

Indeed, charity has become almost a fashionable thing and new ways are being employed to pressurise people into donating. Brightly coloured wrist bands have been, and still are to a certain degree, decidedly popular with many people, particularly adolescents, the most recognisable and well-worn of these bands being the white ‘Make Poverty History’ ones.

The issue that these are a waste of resources is an important one and one hardly needs to be told that these wrist bands will soon find themselves in a landfill site (heaven forbid there be a wrist band promoting Eco-friendliness or one labelled ‘Save our Planet’). This issue, however, although a valid one, is beside the point.

The general idea of the wrist bands is to encourage people to buy them, thus donating some of the money to charity. Many of us are then put under pressure to buy a wrist band as so many people have them that we are made to feel mean and guilty on a daily basis if we do not posses and display such a band and the wrist bands become a form of advertising for the charity as everyone feels compelled to buy one to show their ‘generosity’.

I have been asked on many occasion why I have not donated to this or that charity and I simply answer that I believe that giving to charity is up to the giver and that you needn’t have something to show for it. It is the giving that’s important, not the showing that you have given. Giving to charity is something private – for all people know, I may have given £50 to charity, but decided not to show it.

I also find that once someone has bought a wrist band or similar form of recognition, they feel as if they have done their bit and that is the end of it; the wrist band is the focus and when they have it, they need give no more.

One final note on the wrist bands – however much you give to receive one, some of that money goes to the production of the band; if not to the workers, who may be volunteers, then to the material itself and to the maintenance of the machines. Could you benefit the charity more if you gave money but refused a wrist band?

Moving away from the wrist band issues, but making a few more points on the issues of the pressure put on people to give, some people very generously give up some of their time to take part in sponsored activities, which is generous of them and can be fun. However, this is often taken to extremes. People have died or become seriously ill in the process of raising money for charity; people who live fairly sedentary lifestyles suddenly participate in strenuous activities such as running a marathon with no training. They merely turn up in their running gear, or lack thereof, and plunge headlong into the event, their bodies being quite unprepared for and unaccustomed to such activity. This leads to all sorts of problems, including, as mentioned already, death.

What makes people do such things for charity? Is it their intense generosity, or is it something else?

Pressure to participate is one thing. Another is possibly trying to outdo others who have done similar things – it is no longer adequate to jog ten times around the local park, however unusual it is for that person to do – it just won’t generate others’ interests and therefore their sponsorship. That’s been done – no one wants to do that again. No, it must be bettered! Some sponsored events seem to be more of a record-breaking feat than a fund-raiser.

There are so many different charities nowadays, which is great, but even if you are persuaded only once by each charity to donate, that’s a lot of money – people representing these organisations don’t seem to realise that there are many other charities and even though someone might not donate to theirs, does not mean that they are not generous – indeed, they may have given thousands to another charity; that is not ungenerous, far from it in fact.

Even if they hadn’t already given, it does not make them a lesser person – they may have an awkward financial situation themselves. I could go into more detail here. However, I believe that would be unnecessary.

One final word on charities then: so many of the charities and charity events we hear about are for children, cancer, aids, Africa and India. I think if we are going to give to charity, we must not forget the less commonly donated to charities. Remember the adults, remember those suffering from uncommon diseases and remember the people in countries other than Africa and India – your own country perhaps? There are people there who need it too.

And before you contemplate giving to the poor in India:

Indian Hindu woman feeding rats

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