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?