Friday, 14 December 2012

I have promised to

do an hour "collecting" for the Christmas Bowl Appeal this afternoon. I am, as always, doing this with mixed feelings. Yes, it is a worthy cause and most of the money collected will go where it is intended it should go. All the same I dislike the idea of standing there "asking" for money.
Fortunately I do not actually need to "ask". You just sit or stand there, smile nicely and hope that people will feel they want to contribute something. Yes, we have been told by the organiser not to approach people, especially at this particular location.
I would not approach people anyway. It is my belief that nobody should feel they are required to donate money to any cause at all. It should be left up to them.
I will never try and sell books of raffle tickets for the same reason. I cannot make myself approach my friends, neighbours and acquaintances and ask them to part with money in the hope of winning a car or a case of wine or some other "donated" goody. There are no raffle tickets involved this time, just a straightforward donation - if people want to give.
I know charities are constantly trying to come up with new ways to raise money. The "prizes" for "donating" have become even bigger. There are at least two local charities which raffle off houses each year. Cars, boats and caravans are now commonplace.
Someone I am vaguely acquainted with won a trailer filled with gardening equipment, electrical goods and toys. He lives in a city apartment, does not drive or have a garden. He has all the electrical goods he needs and no children. He gave the lot away with a shrug and perhaps it did more good that way. He had bought the ticket under pressure from a work colleague.
But I have other problems with charitable organisations. I know that far too much of the money gets wasted on administration and on the public face of the charity. I know that some of them replicate the work of other, similar charities and that administration is duplicated, as is money spent on the public face. I know that there are all sorts of issues inside charities. I know they struggle to get funds and volunteers and that many smaller charities are simply not able to compete.
I also know that they should supplement the work which should be done by government paid for by our taxes. They should not be a substitute - but all too often they are.

1 comment:

Sue Bursztynski said...

You seem to be talking about a number of things here. I rattle a tin for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal each year. I think it a good thing to do. You don't "approach" people but you can't just stand there either. We walk past cars as they halt for the lights and those who want to donate roll down their windows. Simple as that. No government is ever going to do it all and some governments believe that helping the poor is ging to make us a "nanny state". I would rather not rely on them.

Each year, the Year 8 students at my school do fundraising for a charity of their choice. They research a number of them - and indeed, one question we ask them to look up is how much the charity spends on administration - and present to their fellow students to persuade them to choose the charity they want. Then they all vote by secret ballot and the winning charity is the one they all fundraise for. This year it was Save The Children. They learn so much from this activity. They learn how things are outside their suburb. They learn to work in teams. Those who are academic enjoy the challenge. Those who aren't have the chance to do something they like - eg, a sports match - and feel that they have achieved something(which they have!) . This year, we had a team of five boys, four of them with issues, who worked amazingly as a team. They made and sold pan cakes and ran a disco. I saw a boy who has been alone all year by choice make suggestions, smile and laugh for the first time. Another who never speaks if he can avoid it offered to negotiate with teachers. One who won't sit still in class took on a leadership role, organising the disco, took surveys, and another, an Asperger's boy, led the pancake making.

They have the pride of knowing they have helped others. And these aren't middle class kids with a "noblesse oblige" attitude, but some of the poorest in Australia, some of them refugees. If we relied on the government to do it all, they would have an attitude of,"Why bother? The pollies will do it."