Saturday, 16 July 2011

Big Charity Ain't as Pretty as She Looks...

I had an interesting experience yesterday when I was approached in the street by a lovely lady seeking to raise money for charity. I'm aware of the fact that everyone is extremely nice to you when they want your hard-earned but this girl could not stop smiling, and at the risk of sounding sexist, was absolutely stunning. Has anyone else ever met an ugly charity fundraiser, either male or female? I can honestly say that I haven't and assume that this is part of the general marketing strategy - after all, sex sells right? Moreover, I've seen it enough times before in all walks of life - when an 'important' person visits you, with the possibility of a new revenue stream or opportunity on the table, find an alluring member of the opposite sex who may also vaguely understand what he or she is talking about. I've never seen an attractive woman sacked from her job, and appreciate that the presence of outer beauty has this tendency to bring out our more 'generous' qualities. We're all guilty of that, myself included.

Two observations about charities - firstly the proliferation of them that currently exist and take to the streets for your direct debit surely demonstrate just how dismally the notion of nationalised compassion has failed? Whenever I'm asked to cough up for the homeless, the orphaned or to help fight one disease or another, I immediately think:- aren't these the sorts of issues that our sacred cows of the NHS, DSS and Social Services were meant to eradicate? And if they're doing such a wonderful job as the statists keep telling us, then why do you need a private donation from this bunny in addition to what was taken from him on threat of imprisonment? Of course not everyone poses those questions and some simply "hand over their fucking money" as Bob Geldof would say.

I recall a regrettable conversation with an ex-work colleague many years ago (not where I currently work so keep your nappies on). She suggested that lottery money should go straight to the government in order to boost spending on health and whatever other 'good causes' the state saw fit to spend it on (as if they don't already get enough of what rightfully belongs to the person who earned it). I sincerely believe I lost about five years of my life that morning, partly due to the absurdity of my friend's novel idea, but probably more than anything because I found myself in a minority of one who could see just how insane it was. The point is that a great many people fail to make a distinction between private charity and nationalised compassion. This results in the two behaving in a similar fashion when charities cease to be the causes of good people for sick, poor, lonely or homeless people and become vile monoliths of their own.

I refuse to hand a penny over to a 'charity' that has directors who drive round in sports cars or shiny new offices in various expensive cities around the globe. Less than 10p in every pound given to Oxfam and many other charities actually ends up with those for whom it was originally intended and I'm amazed that this has not been the subject of a great deal of public outrage. It's also astonishing to think how little people think before surrendering their cash or a signature on a direct debit form. Perhaps years of forced confiscation of their money by the state has conditioned them that way, I dunno? I told the little minx who spoke to me yesterday that I would look her charity up online and then make a decision - I'll do that, but in all honesty will start from a position of immense scepticism. Most charities will squander the majority of the monies they receive, while some, tragically, are outright scams. I'll never forget the day my brother phoned me to explain that the 'charity' he was working for was a dud and that he had no choice but to quit on a point of principle - Andrew I'm aware you read this blog, so there's an idea if you fancy making a few quid on the side...

I've always believed that people spend their money far more wisely than the government ever could on their behalf, and would wish for private charity to replace the role currently carried out by the state in a number of areas. However, one of the by-products of our statist economy would appear to be charities that look to the government's model of nationalised compassion for inspiration, and a far stronger one would be one in which individuals organised the raising and then the spending of funds themselves, cutting out the need for administrators and 'directors' with company cars. Corporations are invariably the most sub-zero of cold fish, and so the notion of a corporate charity strikes me as something of an oxymoron. If we can get the government out of the way and return some of people's money to those who earned it then real compassion that makes a difference where it counts can be allowed to thrive, and if the person asking for my money happens to be no oil painting, then I'll know for certain that something has changed...


  1. Charity is a wonderful thing, but some of these big corporations have nothing to do with real charity at all.

    For charity to be real it must be on a human scale. The people who give should be able to see the reasons for which they are giving and be able to identify the ways in which their contribution is improving the well being of somebody or something identifiable.

    When you are accosted by the pretty chugger in the street, you have no idea how your money will be used. You get your conscience twinged with pictures and stories of awful hardship, but nothing about how much goes on the admin and the secure, high paid jobs.

    What you certainly won't be told is how much the charity in question gets from taxpayers. Oxfam, for example, receives about 39% of its income from the government. Many large charities are actually parts of the state machine.

    Huge national and international charities are not the best way to do it. We need more community based, small and beautiful groups working with people they know and love.

  2. is an eye-opener.

  3. Malpoet - bullseye hit as usual...

    Thanks for the tip - will check out fakecharities which I'm sure will indeed be an eye-opener...

  4. Some charity seems more about keeping nice professional middle class people in well paid jobs than it is about helping those in need; that's the cynical perception anyway!