THE BLOG

Are You Giving or Are You Gaining?

06/12/2013 15:50 GMT | Updated 04/02/2014 10:59 GMT

"Please donate to me so I can afford the equipment so I can undertake this very questionable challenge in a tropical paradise...for charity"

I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed the surge of social enterprises who aim to provide people with the opportunities to partake in expensive treks and other activities under the crusading banner of charity. Simply by "sponsoring" a candidate they can raise a hefty sum, which over a period of time, 50-70% of the total raised will go to paying the costs of the trip rather then into the accounts of the charity itself. Such people will not be getting a penny out of me.

If I am going to part with my money I want to see you suffer in some way. Now before people start saying to me " James not everyone is athletic...we can't all do what you do" then let me say this; by suffering I am referring to the meaning of the word in general. If you are raising money to do a physical event then you have to suffer, period. This is the whole point in fundraising, people are giving money to a charity because you are sacrificing your comforts. It is a virtual transaction where the currency is your pain. Likewise if you are completely unfit or unable to even walk then you can still suffer by doing something which pushes you to your limit. For example writing a short book out again on paper or attempting to walk non stop for 24 hours or even attempting to recite a speech off by heart, anything which shows me you have suffered for your cause. There can be fun elements but the event as a whole cannot be fun. Climbing Kilimanjaro if you are a healthy adult is an active holiday not a challenge so pay for your equipment and flights out of your own pocket, don't take the funds from a charity bucket!

Now on the topic of publicly funded charity missions, this is my philosophy; if it is not ground breaking (and by groundbreaking I mean are you attempting to break a new world record, trying something which has never been attempted/rarely attempted before in human history or just doing something extremely dangerous and epic?) then do not ask me for money. I am not funding your gap year.

I am not superman which means that every challenge I have done has required months of sacrifice before I have even started the event. The day or (days) itself is hell there is no other way of describing it. I want people to observe me doing these challenges and feel compelled to donate because they can see that I am passionate and am willing to sacrifice my temporary physical and mental health for a cause.

I believe that the charity sector is losing it's way at the top and at a grassroots level. We have NGO'S which now operate as if they were profit seeking businesses, people jumping on free meal ticket holidays disguised as charity missions and for profit volunteering industries which exploit well meaning travelers who often end up doing more harm then good in the community they are trying to help.

There are some amazing people out there who do truly inspiring things to raise awareness for a cause. People like Tony the Fridge who runs in marathons and cross country multi day events carrying a fridge on his back! Or even at a smaller level the thousands of people that train for months to run a marathon, giving up their weekends to hitting the lonely road then turning up on the day and giving it their all to set a new personal best time. Maybe I am biased but these are the people we should be focusing on more, not opportunists who want to take a holiday but would rather somebody else foot the bill.