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{22/01/2012}   Charity Scrooge

I may be laying myself open to Scrooge comments by saying this but I hate giving to charity. Charity chuggers ambushing me on the street get a harsh scowl from me, I give a wide berth to people with collection buckets and charity post goes straight into the bin. Not only that, it makes me angry. And feeling guilty.

However, I have donated a lot of stuff to charity shops (and I don’t give them flea market fodder, I will only give what I consider easily resaleable clothes, books and bric a brac). I occasionally sponsor friends. I always “buy” a poppy and I occasionally “buy” a badge/flower/ribbon from charity boxes by tills in shops.

When I put my head down and charge through supermarket entrances that are flanked by collectors, I feel a mix of annoyance and guilt. I suspect the latter pulls in a fair bit of money from some people. I do feel bad every time I am forced to ignore or say no to a charity collector. I also feel bad when friends I am with give money but I don’t.

I do want to give money to good causes and, yes, I do choose charity shops that have/do/could affect me and those I know. When a friend’s young son was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, I did a massive wardrobe and stuff clear-out and took six bin bags to a related charity. Yet I still feel bad that on an almost daily basis, I refuse to hand over cash to collectors.

Maybe I like to think that if I gave to one then I’d feel I’d have to give to them all. I suspect that’s not it. I can afford to donate a bit of money to a charity. I just don’t like being made to feel it’s an obligation. I guess I buy poppies and other badges occasionally because I like the concept of buying something. But that isn’t exactly a charitable mentality. I am confident I don’t buy such things to wear as a look-at-me-I-donate-to-charity type statement. But why do I feel comfort in getting something tangible for my donation, for sponsoring friends doing challenging activities (marathons, long walks and triathlons of late) and giving things away that can be sold to generate money? I really don’t know, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’d find that interesting.

I would like to do something physically challenging and get sponsorship. But I’d hate, hate, hate asking my friends to sponsor me and I’m self-employed so don’t have the opportunity to also raise money through my company. I also think that doing something I’d love to do (I’m thinking an arctic trek, walking across the US, something really big) seems strangely selfish. Maybe on that basis I should do something like a marathon because I hate running, I hate crowds and the thought of all that training to do something that fills me with dread and loathing would make it even more of a challenge … so my sponsors would feel they were getting value for money. Hmm, I seem to be placing a lot of emphasis in getting a tangible or visible return on my money, again not in the true spirit of charity.

I am trying to think of things charities could do that would make me more inclined to donate cash for no return other than knowing my money is helping someone or something. There have been a lot of adverts on television asking for donations for charities helping with, for example, famine in Africa and saying how £3 can make a difference. That helps. But I would like to see a programme or video or something that takes my donation and tracks its progress to the point I can see how it has been spent. So maybe I just don’t trust the workings of charities, which sounds awful. But I don’t know that it’s entirely unreasonable to wonder how my £5 in a charity bucket helps the people or research it’s intended for.

I don’t know the answers or why I think how I do but I do wish I could find a way to use my time and energy to promoting and helping with charity work in a way that satisfied my many reservations about charity. For now I will continue having regular clear-outs and taking the clothes etc to charity shops and running away from chuggers and collection buckets.

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