Monday, 27 April 2015
On the one hand, I want to help people who've gone off the rails in one way or another - jobless, homeless, mentally or physically ill, victims of natural disasters and a hundred other desperate situations. I've had a lot of good luck in my life and I should help those who haven't been so lucky.
But then I read stories about charities that are badly run or waste money and I wonder if my donation will actually be put to good use. I hear about overpaid chief executives, expensive offices, or pointless projects, and I hesitate to hand over some of my hard-earned cash. I've worked for several charities myself, so I know that money isn't always best spent.
On top of that, I think of all the tax I pay to the government and ask why they can't look after people properly instead of expecting charities to fill all the gaps. Are my donations to charity merely encouraging that indifference?
If it's a cause dear to my heart, I'll brush away the doubts and give something anyway, just hoping the money (or the used books or used clothing) will end up helping someone in need.
Nowadays also there are so many charities fighting for attention, it's hard to decide which ones to respond to. New charities are popping up every minute. all making out that their particular cause is more urgent than anyone else's. They play on our emotions, on our sense of guilt and horror, and make us feel that ignoring them is an act of sheer heartlessness.
Who wouldn't want to help the victims of the Nepal earthquake, or a collapsed factory in Bangladesh, or a hurricane in Indonesia? Or for that matter all those in our own country who're sleeping rough or short of food or just finding life unbearable?
But I can't help everyone. Who do I care about the most? And will my donation be used wisely? I write my cheque and hope for the best.
For those of you dying of curiosity about my three week absence, Jenny and I were in Washington DC and Chicago. Nothing much to blog about, but we had a fabulous time.