Saturday, 8 November 2008

Losing the will to give

Sign up and save the world - it's really easy - all you need to do is set up a monthly direct debit.

I'm fed up of being charity mugged by vest-wearing drama students pretending to care for whichever cause has its logo emblazoned on their nylon bib that day.

I dislike being followed down the street by a man with a clipboard making comments about my hair in an effort to get me to turn round and direct debit £10 a month to a charity I've never heard of or don't support.

More than that, I object to the guilt trip hard sell that comes next - not because Shelter doesn't do a great job - but because I'm hearing what my £10 a month could do for a homeless single parent family from a bloke who's paid up to £18 an hour to tell me about it.

Maybe I'm naieve to suggest that charity is better conducted at a grass roots level with people giving their time, thought and emotional support to a cause, rather than just their cash - but that's the reaction being charity mugged provokes in me.

I look at the old bloke from the Royal British Legion with his poppy can asking for donations that will help returning troops in his home town, and I can't help thinking his work is more important.

He's passionate about the cause, he's giving his time for free and by doing that he's inspiring respect in the people who donate - they're more likely to take his message home with them.

Of course charities wouldn't be using an aggressive fundraising approach if it didn't work, and in financial terms it obviously does pay dividends.

I suspect this is because once you've set up a direct debit you're likely to forget about it and so don't question if it's a worthy cause and carry on giving unthinkingly.

It means that in the battle for hearts, minds and money the charity bib brigade are raking in the cash but raising very little lasting awareness or real support for their cause.

And maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'd argue that in the long term the sales speil and the "quirky" bouncy twenty-somethings irritating shoppers on high streets everywhere with their boderline anti-social pavement blocking antics actually damages a charity's reputation and standing.

I do hope that wasn't too Daily Mail for you.


Alison Gow said...

If it makes you feel any better Laura, they only seem to target the young and generous-looking.
I was studiously ignored by all of them in Church Street today while fresh-faced, ideal-filled youngsters were converged on with hope and expectation.
Although why anyone would discuss potential direct debits with a random stranger in the street (however well-badged) is beyond me...

Old Reprobate said...

Rock on petal! A young second cousin of mine, and his wife,did the bib-thing a few years ago to try to earn some money. They gave up after 2 weeks because they felt guilty about what they were doing and because of the hostility they met on the streets. I agree with Ms Gow about the age of the targets. Because of my grey beard and stick, they always let me pass undisturbed.... makes me feel even older but happy to be an outcast!!!