I’ve given money to various charities for a long time and been a member of a couple of associations, Amnesty and Greenpeace since my student days, although I did grow out of CND, I wonder if it still exists.
Why do we give and why do we seem to give more as we grow older? There are many reasons to give to charity, some people are grateful for having overcome a serious illness, on the other hand some people give to a charity related to an illness a close one died of. At funerals I’ve been asked to give to cancer research for example, the logic being that if we can save others from the same sort then let’s try.
Some people give because it’s cool to, our because their favourite film star sponsors a certain cause, the image of Angelina Jolie with some African child on her knee (apart from her own children that is) must touch some people, although unfortunately not me, I’d rather see her holding a sick bucket, or digging a well, or something useful. However it obviously serves some purpose otherwise they wouldn’t keep up these publicity missions.
One must assume UNICEF’s logo all over famous football tops does some good, my son and his friends quickly found out all that they could when it appeared on FC Barcelona’s kit. On the other hand they have the same knowledge of Qatar foundation and Bwin for similar reasons. A lot of celebrities do things for charity, some more publicly than others. Bill Gates’ foundation was created to eradicate malaria in the world. Leonardo Dicaprio… JK Rowling apparently lost her place on the top 10 richest Brits as a consequence of charitable donations, the list goes on.
Some charities are cooler than others, in France one popular cause, “les restaurants du Coeur”, was set up by a well-known comic who invited all his rock star friends to do concerts to raise money. This group, known as “les enfoirés” (the “buggers”) sells CDs and DVDs of their concerts, and along with collection points for supermarket supplies, they provide food and other goods for those in need. Coluche, the comic in question, set up this organisation 25 years ago, to provide hot meals in a friendly, non-judgemental environment. People are offered a proper lunch, with starter and dessert, and – this being France, a glass or two to wine to accompany the meal in a civilised manner. a little more kudos than meals on wheels, and a precursor to Live Aid and Bob Geldof’s rude words, Coluche made it cool to care.
Some give because it makes them look good, when I was raising money by asking for sponsors for a half marathon a year or so ago, someone offered a considerable amount, and the comment “when so and so see how much I’ve given you, they’ll all want to do the same”, although it was a tough choice of whether to puke on her shoes or take the money and run, I chose the latter, it wasn’t for me after all.
Some give because they are good, they want other people to have the chance they do in life and not to suffer anymore, because they feel we are all a big family who should love and help each other. While I’m not a member of an official church I think it’s very interesting how some religious groups automatically give a certain percentage of their income. What could we generate if the same mentality spilled over into the mainstream and it became normal to give a fixed amount of your salary to the charity of your choice? If we started this the minute we entered working life we would never notice the difference, it would just be lost amongst the other contributions, a sort of feel good tax.
I give because it makes me feel good about myself, it makes me feel a better person, it’s my way of paying for the blessed life I lead – and for doing my bit so it will continue. It’s payback time, I makes me feel happier, helps me sleep better at night. I don’t show off about it, or tell anyone until asked, apart from my children that is, because I want to bring them up too understand that it’s normal to give to charity. I quite accept that this is wrong, it is superficial and it is not giving with the right mentality, but does it matter? The money’s in the bank after all, who cares why or how it ended up there?
P.S. - I know I'm running late, I'll catch up soon!