Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Ice Cold Charity


You are probably aware of the current Ice Bucket challenge craze: a charity fundraising drive for ALS or Motor Neurone disease which has swept the nation this summer.  Nominees film themselves having a bucket of iced water thrown over their heads, post the video on Facebook and then donate to the charity.  Or don't in some cases.  My daughter completed her challenge in Brittany last week, nominated by the friend who went on holiday with us; her cousins in Ireland have done it and various otherwise sane adults of my acquaintance have also posted their videos on my Facebook page.  I haven't bothered to play them.

You may sense my cynicism about all this.  It's not that I object to fundraising, it's just that I dislike the tactics used by some charities.  They are 'competing' for a finite amount of money - the amount of a family's disposable income that they are willing to give to charity  And why should this charity receive a bigger share because they have come up with something which appeals to our 'selfie' obsessed society?   The Cancer Research 'no make-up' Facebook selfie was similar.  No doubt there are charities around the country meeting in attempts to come up with the next craze.  The adult version of 'loom bands' perhaps.

Charity fundraising is an emotive issue and people usually donate or raise funds themselves to charities which mean something to them. A number of my friends raise funds for cancer charities because of their personal experiences.  And when my husband rode from London to Paris he fundraised for the Alzheimer's Society because his mother had suffered dementia in her final years.  There's nothing wrong with this, yet I suppose it highlights the fact that there is a element of charitable giving which is about making ourselves feel better.

When my daughter was younger I worried that she was rather spoilt: as an only child with lots of relatives the stack of toys and presents at Christmas and birthdays was immense.  So I decided to join one of those schemes where you sponsor a child in a developing country- pay an amount every month and you help a named child, getting updates on her progress etc.  Our child was Awa Ba from a rural part of Senegal: we received photographs of her, letters from the person who worked with her and the occasional drawing from Awa herself.  My motivation for doing this was twofold - Kate would learn that not all children were as lucky as her and I would be helping another child rather than spending more of my income on my own.  I succeeded to some extent though, believe it or not, Kate aged 8 actually envied Awa because her ears were pierced, something I had forbidden until secondary school.  But then my working hours were cut and I had less money to spare so when the project in Senegal ended we decided not to sponsor another child, giving a smaller regular amount instead.  I feel a bit guilty about this -  there are plenty of things I could do without and still sponsor a child.  But child sponsorship is, in fact, really another gimmick.  The money given doesn't go directly to the child, but to the project and all the costs admin, photographs and postage associated with the sponsorship programme will reduce the funds available for the community

Kate has not made her Ice Bucket donation yet.  I am insisting that she does.  However I want her to make an informed decision about which charity she wants to support rather than automatically giving to the ALS.




8 comments:

  1. It has also got me thinking, I have been nominated, tho obviously I will not be able to do this for some time. It is very good marketing on behalf of the charity, and they need this with so many charities all fighting for our money. I have worked for charities and it is a constant battle to get funding. Unfortunately there are people doing the ice bucket challenge with no thought of giving to charity.

    Actually, you have helped me make up my mind. I will not be doing the ice bucket challenge, but I will make a donation to the Crohns Association, a charity close to our hearts as my son has Crohns. I feel a bit mean not donating to ALS, but being selfish I want the money to go to research and hopefully find a cure for this terrible disease.

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    1. This is a good charity to support and gets very little publicity. Glad I help you decide and hope you recover soon from your op.

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  2. This sort of thing is a bit like chain letters. I don't like them either. It basically puts me off giving to these charities. I already give as much as I can to various charities and it annoys me when I'm made to feel mean and uncharitable if I don't want to give more to the particular charity that someone is trying to force on me. Hope you know what I mean. Many charities do very good work and I support them as best I can.

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    1. I also hate it when charities 'cold call'. We had two nice young lads recently knocking on our door trying to get us to sign up for 'breakthrough Breast Cancer'. A bit of an extreme fundraising tactic, I thought, and I sent them packing.

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  3. The best picture I saw on Facebook was a little kid in Africa just looking like he'd heard something mad with the tagline "You pour clean water all over you? Just for what? What a waste!" It really made me think; we do waste water anyway, and this just seems so much more excessive! I haven't done the challenge, and won't, but will just give my money to charity thoughtfully and not just because it's the 'in' charity this month.

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  4. Yes I hate wasting water and apparently Water Aid have done quite well opt of this as people have donated to them as a kind of protest. Nice to read all your comments and I'm pleased you've visited my blog.

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  5. I won't be doing the ice bucket challenge either, Doris. It is absolutely a gimmick similar to the no make-up selfie. I have no problem with anyone taking part in these crazes and fair play to those who donate to the charity concerned. I'll carry on giving, in my own way, whether that be donations, my time or actual cash and not be made to feel guilty for not joining in with whatever happens to be "flavour of the month". Phew. I'll climb down off my soap box now :-)

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  6. "Our selfy obsessed society" - spot on, Doris! And couldn't agree more with your post xxx

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