We've all seen it this weekend, splashed across every single newspaper the dear old woman, Olive, who commited suicide because she was allegedly bombarded by charity 'begging' letters. It's a pretty horrific thing to be honest; that a woman at the age of 92 felt so low and depressed that she had to end her own life by jumping into the Bristol Avon Gorge. Let's face it, getting to the ripe old age of 92 should be a celebration!
I myself work in the charity sector, a bittersweet career at times which has it's own unique path. I fell into the sector by writing about doing 'good deeds' and helping others. Now, I get paid to travel the country and help a wealth of charities from fundraising to marketing. But it's the fundraising part that both intrigues and worries me. In a world where we are so driven by money, our grip on giving it away is tighter than ever. I regularly help with fundraising activities and getting people to part with their hard earned cash is one of the trickiest things I've ever done. If you think selling a product or service is hard try getting money from people for nothing in return but their 'goodwill'.
So when I step into a charity and see the weird and wonderful ways that they try to raise the millions they need to keep going, there can be a fine line, which sometimes is crossed. Now, don't get me wrong I am not condemning any charity but in respects to dear old Olive, there must be some level of control; a level of governance. Now, I wish not to cast any judgements on Olive, but clearly the level of affect that charities had on her mental well-being clearly was too much.
We all get them, those letters in the post. The ones with the emotional story about a dog that lost its leg in an almost fatal accident with a picture postcard attached. As you pull out the heart-wrenching document the 'donate now' form falls out in tandem. I get them every other day and whereas I do read them, I do also understand that they are a sales tool. A way of enticing us to give up our money to their worthy cause. A worthy cause that may be, but when we house 184,000 charities in the UK all of them fighting for the same pound in our purse, we have to question the integrity behind their methods.
I've done sponsored walks, set up countless just giving pages, and stood in the pouring rain at car boot sales; you name it, I've tried it. And all in the name of raising money for a charity that saved my life. But when a charity contacts you out of the blue asking you to support their cause, charity that has no direct relationship with you, should you donate?
I always say, support local. Charity starts at home. If, in your local area, there is a charity that does amazingly inspiring work, give them your support. That does not mean your money but your time too. Go volunteer, go help out, share their link on Facebook and give them a Tweet. But if a letter comes through your door with an emotional story of how someone desperately in need of your last pound might be in peril if you don't donate, think. Think if that is really where you want your money to go. I don't say this because I want that person or cause to be without, because nobody wants that. Well almost nobody. I say this because there will always be someone else who will donate that £3 if you don't. Leaving you to donate your £3 to a charity that you feel deserves your money.
Just like putting that red cross on the ballot paper; you have a choice. We live in a democratic country where you are free and able to vote for whichever party you feel will benefit your life. Do the same with charity; donate to the ones you want to, not the ones that tell you that you should.