By Vanessa McHardy, MA Integrative Child Psychotherapist and Neil Gamble, Chairman and Director of Companies and Retired CEO.
Can we have our cake and eat it? And at what cost to our health, and the health budgets of our governments?
There is a cancer patient support charity that raises funds by asking people around the world to take part in annual coffee mornings. Their slogans for these events are ‘Cake tastes better together’ and ‘You can have your cake and eat it’. Read More
Last year in the UK we saw how a number of large charities, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Cancer Research amongst others, think it is appropriate to ‘cold-call’ people to raise money for their charities.
They employ external companies to do the dirty work – and dirty work it is indeed. The undercover videos 1 2 accompanying the recent media article (“VICTORY! After Mail exposé reveals shame of charity cold call sharks, PM pledges tough new laws to tackle ‘boiler room’ tactics targeting the elderly and vulnerable”) published by the Daily Mail UK 3, show the tactics that are used to get people to part with their cash. No one is spared from being given this ‘opportunity’ to donate including elderly pensioners and those with dementia. Read More
The other day I attended a forum on the latest attempt to more specifically define the term ‘public benevolent institution’, a phrase used in Australia to describe those charities that aim to relieve poverty or distress.
As part of the discussion the question was asked if relief should be confined to providing assistance after the fact: shouldn’t those charities in the developmental space – that aim to prevent poverty and distress – also be considered public benevolent institutions?
The discussion brought to mind a question I have long pondered regarding the extent to which relief should be provided to people in distress. The answer seems clear in terms of disaster relief – it would be impractical and unloving to stand by and do nothing to alleviate suffering in the aftermath of an earthquake, flood or similar such event, be they man-made or natural. Emergency humanitarian aid also seems appropriate in situations where displaced populations have gathered as a result of conflict or similar.
Where I find things become less clear are in situations where poverty and distress are entrenched. I’m thinking here, for example, of African nations where poverty has been an issue for decades despite years of western intervention.
Is there not a point we should reach where we have to ask if all that charity is actually doing anything? And if the situation is not improved, despite long-term support, does that not indicate that it is not?
Just before Christmas I glanced through my local community newspaper and was struck by the number of items, primarily editorial, that were about charity – including on this occasion the front cover.
I did an audit. Of the 36 pages of the paper that weren’t devoted to sport, real estate, classifieds or jobs, no less than 20 contained a piece (and on several pages, two to three pieces) on something to do with charity.
Some were small items, others prominent. The cover story was about the threatened closure of a charity; other items were designed to alert readers to the needs of a particular organisation or their constituents; one or two were simply communicating a success or an outcome; others were seeking support via donations of goods, money or time.
This paper by nature does report similar items regularly but on this occasion the amount of charity pieces felt excessive. Maybe the somewhat dramatic headline on the front page set the tone – and me on high alert in terms of noticing how many similar pieces followed.
How to account for this increase? Perhaps the proximity to Christmas meant charities were under more pressure to deliver services and needed additional support; possibly they were being strategic in their communication, banking on the possibility that ‘Christmas spirit’ might motivate readers to contribute extra donations or to volunteer their time.
Whatever the reason I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed by all this need and wondered how other readers might fare in the face of these alerts and requests for support.