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Does doing work for charity make you a superhero or super stupid?

Blackswan like to run charity events. One morning last week I put a pop up charity board opposite our local school to promote a big community charity event Blackswan is running, Green Carnival at the Coast. Shortly thereafter, I had a very angry shopkeeper dragging said board across the street because he felt that it was not appropriate outside his building.

The picture board in it's preferred spot.

 

Not only did he drag the picture board across the road violently, he then proceeded to tell me off rather angrily. The fact that it was there for 30 minutes - not collecting money or seeking anything except photographs - was of little interest to him, he told me. The charity event it was constructed to promote is being held in aid of two great needs: the PSP Association and Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and includes a black tie event, a fun run, and kid’s events.

 

When you reach out to people to participate, you get some fantastic responses and offers to help. However, you also get so much rejection, outright dismissal and downright rudeness. You also get people who think they are supporting you, doing a favour for you, or doing it for their ego. You may get an “I will do this but it’s a favour you owe me”, or “give me a discount”, or “I will help if I can market/make money out of it”. For all these reasons I am thankful, but also angry; thankful because of how giving some people are in trying to help you, and angry because some people don't see the greater good or the opportunity to make a difference. When did our world become so cynical?

 

Many of the responses make us question why we do it. Life would certainly be easier without the hassle. I also find that in many charity endeavours it is the wealthiest who take prominence whilst the poorest are more giving. Yes, I know this is a gross generalisation and maybe a little unfair, yet I have read in Forbes that experts have speculated that the wealthy may be less generous because their personal drive to accumulate wealth may be inconsistent with the idea of communal support.

 

I personally find that whilst some people are altruistic when giving, others do it for internal satisfaction, or because they are spending the Company’s money and see it as an opportunity to go and have a great time. So why each year do we take the risk of loss, rejection, or failure when raising money for charity? Is it because we come from a higher moral order and this is our gift to life? I don't think so. Every one of us, I believe, wants to be someone who does things that do good. Not because of the glory.

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.

 

Why do I tell you this? Well I want you to understand that in supporting our charity event you are helping me on behalf of those who cannot. I want you to understand that you are not giving to me, but to those who cannot. I want you to understand that charity is not a choice but an obligation. I want you so much to understand that I am not the difference, but you are, and that the gift of giving is a right few have which must be exercised.

 

We may not always admit it, but an important reason why many people donate to charity is because it gives them a good feeling - a ‘warm glow’. Conversely, we sometimes donate because not donating would leave us with a bad feeling. This is nothing to be ashamed of! On the contrary, as caring human beings, others’ happiness and gratitude provides strong motivation to do good in the first place. Here are the 10 reasons I think some people do it:

 

1. Every little bit helps.

You don't have to be a millionaire to make a significant difference; even small donations have the potential to drastically improve an individual's quality of life.

 

2. Giving benefits the world's neediest people.

It’s good to know you make a difference by significantly increasing the help we provide to those who need it most.

             

3. Poverty can be tackled.

Effective interventions can break the cycle of poverty for the world's neediest people. Preventing and fighting diseases can keep children healthy and in school.

 

4. We have the financial resources to combat poverty.

700 million people live on less than $2 a day. Those of us living in more economically developed countries have significant collective resources at our disposal. Focusing solely on the EU, it would take just three euros per EU citizen to come up with a billion dollars of aid money.

 

5. Giving makes us happier.

Research has shown that spending money on ourselves does not significantly increase our sense of happiness or wellbeing. A Harvard Business School study suggests that giving to others is directly correlated with an increased sense of happiness.

 

6. Giving brings us closer to creating the world we would want to live in.

Are you comfortable living in a world where there is about a 10% chance that a new-born child will be one of the 700 million people living on less than $2 a day without access to basic necessities?

 

7. Giving works.

The fact that extreme poverty still exists causes many people to claim that development aid isn't working. In fact, effective aid efforts have been repeatedly proven to reduce death rates and suffering in developing countries.

 

8. Giving is a question of justice.

Being born in an affluent nation greatly increases our chances of benefiting from good infrastructure, healthcare, access to education, and the availability of stable jobs. For people born in a developing country, the chances that their hard work will pay off are greatly diminished.

 

9. Giving is in our nature.

Have you ever felt compelled to help someone – a gut reaction as you witnessed a struggle and recognised that you were capable of support? Whether it is a person stumbling on the street or falling on hard times because of illness, whether it is someone close to us or a complete stranger – our first impulse is to help.

 

10. Giving is tax-deductible.

If this is what drives you - why not?

 

 

For more information on Green Carnival at the Coast, check out the website here and get involved!

 

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