I thought long and hard about this Blog to the extent that I lost sleep over it. The subject matter is emotive and many may judge me as uncaring or heartless because of it. I will address this later.
I recently came across a new term-Toxic Charity. A classic example was the Live Aid charity events of the early 80’s. Organised by a coalition of people from the world of pop music it was fronted by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats. It’s aim was to end famine in Ethiopia. A noble aim but analysis since has determined that it only had the effect of making the inhabitants dependant on top down giving. Furthermore the government of the day diverted funds to arms purchases. This is also true of government aid. In a 2010 Daily Telegraph article it was even suggested that it exacerbated and extended the problem. The article is here . There is a book which sums up this idea. You can find a review of it here. Live Aid was in the early 80’s and many African nations are still heavily dependant on charity when their own governments do little or nothing for them or even prefer to spend money warring with other nations.
I also object to the fact that I am bombarded by advertisements asking for a monthly donation to various charities. They show emotive images of people suffering or animal cruelty and imply that you are uncaring if you do not. it is a kind of bullying, using guilt to force an action. One of my favourite singers, Kate Bush sang a song which became a charity icon on such an advert and now each time I hear it I feel a twinge of guilt.
The small text at the end of the advert admits that not all the cash will go to the charity. These adverts cost money and they employ all sorts of people at management level. I don’t believe for a moment that everyone involved in commissioning the advert and making it donated their services for free. The adverts usually have a clause in the small text that, by agreeing to donate you further agree to any and all future contact from the charity. Handy for badgering you when they have another campaign going
This charitable bullying extends to street collections and we also see door to door campaigns to obtain a monthly contract to donate. Those collecting on the street are usually happy and chatty but the fact remains that they are effectively shaming you if you do not have the money to put in the tin. The door to door campaigns are worse. these are usually pushy and arrogant sales oriented people who use all kinds of tricks to push your buttons.
I mentioned earlier that you usually go onto a mailing list if you donate but these are also sold to other charities. You can see where this might lead and indeed it was instrumental in driving a lovely and kindly lady to her death. The story is here.
Lately, a nationally recognised telethon has admitted that, contrary to the message it broadcasts, the money is not distributed immediately to charity but held in investment accounts for years. O.K. it may increase the value of the cash raised but the Telethon shows heart rending images of suffering, implying that your money will alleviate the suffering now, not when they have invested it for a few years. The report is here. One of the stars was actually paid to appear for many years though he waived his fee after a while. I believe he is no longer involved but the point is valid. I admit that all the articles cited here are old but the issues they highlight are on going.
I would get behind a single charity foundation which would organise distribution to others. I also believe in charity to enable the beneficiaries to help themselves. One recent advert asks for 15 pounds which an African entrepreneur will invest in their business. That is helping people help themselves. I will give to street collections if I have money on me. if I can be sure the money will all go to the charity I will be more inclined to give.
The fact is, quite simply, I am not rich. We have enough to provide our needs but we certainly couldn’t afford to donate on a regular basis. Instead my good Ladybot and I help in another way. If we require Books, DVD’s, Cd’s or clothes our first port of call is the Charity shop. They provide second hand, donated items and profits go to charity. Maybe not all of the profits but it is our way of donating to 7 or 8 charities.
So you see I am a caring person and I do feel strongly the need to help those less fortunate but I will help when I want and how I want. I will not be bullied into it and I will keep an eye out for those charities who are less ethical than they should be.