It’s all for Charity

Money cash

Money cash (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

A local charity had never received a donation from the town’s banker, so the director made a phone call.

“Our records show you make $500,000 a year, yet you haven’t given a penny to charity,” the director began. “Wouldn’t you like to help the community?”

The banker replied, “Did your research show that my mother is ill, with extremely expensive medical bills?”

“Um, no,” mumbled the director.

“Or that my brother is blind and unemployed? Or that my sister’s husband died, leaving her broke with four kids?”

“I … I … I had no idea.”

“So,” said the banker, “if I don’t give them any money, why would I give any to you?”

Unlike our banking friend, most of us try to give some money to charity as and when we can. We probably do this for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s to ease our conscience or it could be to make a difference to something we feed strongly about. For some it’s about helping others or a form of giving back to the community. Whatever the reason, there are a huge number to choose from. In the UK alone, there are 180,000 registered charities, which is roughly one for every 350 people.

I find that number staggering. It’s certainly good that there’s a lot of choice of where to donate your hard-earned money. I’m sure the vast majority do a fantastic job for their chosen cause. But isn’t it rather too many? Private enterprises merge because they know that the value of the whole is likely to be greater than the sum of the two parts.  Much of the overhead of running the organisation is vastly reduced. You don’t need two lots of HR, Finance and Marketing. You also don’t need two CEOs which can only be a good thing when you consider some of the salaries for charity appointments in the broadsheets.

The granularity is great if you want your money to go somewhere very specific and that could be very important to someone who’s been helped by charity. If you’ve been rescued by the Lesser Piddling-on-the-Marsh air ambulance and that made the difference between life and death, you probably want your money to go in that particular direction. But I’m less convinced about the large generalist charities. Do we really need teabags in need, save the teabags and national society for the prevention of gross insensitivity to teabags?


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One comment on “It’s all for Charity

  1. As a former charity worker (ten years) I feel qualified to comment ! Yes there are too many charities for dubious causes, yes many do need to and actually have merged to combine expertise and resource so that they can improve value to the donor and the end user, yes, many are stuck in the dark ages and are very protective of their corner of the charity world.

    But !! when we have a government that insists on reducing support in much needed areas, when no-one else will care or take responsibility, who do we turn to?

    I worked for the third largest provider of care to visually impaired people in the UK, and we did a very good job on not a lot of money, but we were restricted in sustaining that care because the two big names always got noticed before we did in the solicitors list or in the media. In the end we had to merge with one of the other two (and chose the wrong one in my opinion), lost our independence and dynamic and the rest is history.

    What is actually wrong is that too many CEOs in the charity sector are on 6 figure salaries whilst the people who really deliver services to those in need are underpaid by 30% on average so we lose the expertise that matters. Fix that and I think you would see a vast improvement in the perception of what the sector delivers.

    Finally, take away the public funding for charities, and wait and see how much medical, personal and emergency service disappears. in a very short time you would be amazed, and one day, it could be you going to them for help !

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