Should we be more charitable?

It’s a cloudy Sunday afternoon and I’m in the passenger seat of a car belonging to a guy I sometimes see. I’m in last night’s clothes but thankfully not suffering a hangover as for once I’d actually moderated my drinking the night before. Nevertheless I needed to clean my teeth get my pyjamas on and just have some me time. I wasn’t really in the mood for an in-depth conversation on the purpose of charities and whether or not we should donate. But that’s what happened.

I myself am a big believer in giving to charity where possible. Unless it’s a new book by an author I collect or part of a series I always buy my books from charity shops and donate them back afterwards. Same goes with clothes, if I can’t sell it on EBay that too goes in the charity bag. I always put my change in the little boxes on shop counters and at MacDonald’s. I donate to two animal charities directly from my wages. I give gift aid on donations and following a programme such as Sports Relief or Children in Need I’m a weeping mess sending 15 text messages off and nearly falling through the floor when my phone bill comes in. if there’s a charity event to be done such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or the bare faced selfie I’m your girl.

Not everyone it seems shares my views. It was my fault the subject got brought up really as whilst sat in a traffic jam and thinking of some small talk I volunteered the fact that we hadn’t watched Children in Need the night before. Well that opened up a can of worms! I was then treated to a ten minute lecture on why he didn’t agree with charities and didn’t donate. Basically to sum it up, he feels quite strongly that in donating to charity you are only providing the cause a small amount of your donation and that the majority of the money you donate goes to the ‘fat cats’ who manage the charities.

I can’t help but agree with this in one sense, in 2013 the Telegraph published an article which looked into just how much the ‘charity’ actually spent on the cause it supported. The article does make several valid points about charities none charitable expenditure including the amount of people it employs and whether or not it has a chain of high street shops that will generate expenditure. Oxfam for example. What they did find however is that some of the biggest and best known charities are paying some of their staff over £60,000 per annum.

The wages of the staff however does not necessarily have any correlation with the amount spent on what are defined as ‘charitable activities’. For example Cancer research pays 160 of its employees over £60,000 per year but 70% of its £493m annual income is spent on charitable activities. Meanwhile the British Heart Foundation only has 36 employees getting paid over £60,000 per year yet only 46% of its £250m annual income is spent on the cause itself.

Do I agree though with my friend that this should stop us giving to charity completely? After all if all of us were to take the view that our money wasn’t being spent wisely and therefore we would stop giving what would happen then? I think what’s important here is not to stop giving completely but to give more wisely. Make choices carefully and research the charity before agreeing to donate, check out the charity online to find out how many of their employees earn over £60,000 and the percentage of income spent on charitable activities. Most charity websites now provide information about where your donation goes and some such as Dogs Trust and PDSA who I donate to send me regular newsletters and packs of information to show where my money is being spent.

If you don’t feel confident with donating regularly to a charity or buying from their shops it’s worth looking into ideas such as helping a child by buying a Christmas gift for a boy or a girl. Around my area it’s called Help a Hallam Child but I’m sure there are similar fundraising events across the country. Charity Christmas cards are also a good idea and usually aren’t too expensive, try to buy them from the charity themselves though as often supermarkets and other stockists take the majority of the profit.

I’d love to hear others views on this so please get in touch by leaving a comment. What do you think, do you agree with my friend or think we should be more charitable?


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