“The disposition to think favourably of others and to do them good; donation of money, goods, etc. to those in need; alms or alms giving; non- profit making foundation, institution or cause devoted to caring for those in need of help, etc.”
The word charity immediately brings to mind that somebody or something needs help in someway or other, hence the reason I’ve chosen to give the dictionary meaning above.
Most people in the western world would like to think that they are charitable in some way or another. How many times have you been to your local high street, seen a collector of some sort for some charity and dropped some loose change into their collection box? You do not usually even have to think about it. Walking out of the store with your latest purchase it would seem the most natural thing in the world, to drop your change into their collection tin (even if they are not allowed to rattle them these days).
If we actually stopped to think about this occasionally though we may just be a little surprised at whether or not the money will arrive at the worthy cause that is being collected for.
Quite often people will give as a knee jerk reaction. An advertisement on the television or in the paper, or that person stood in the high street. They all give a little tug at our heartstrings. When delving a little deeper though the truth can be somewhat unsettling.
A lot of charities will have many overheads and administration charges so that the money raised for the cause will be vastly reduced. In many instances we could see as little as five percent arriving at its destination. Some charities are good enough to send information packs in order to show you where exactly donated money has gone, but this is yet another example of funds not reaching the worthy cause. Sadly this reflects on our consumerist attitude of actually having something to show for our cash, this money could really be spent on the actual cause, doing far more good than appeasing our curiosity.
World leaders and peers are also to blame, even when they believe that they are acting for the good of all. For example, the cotton industry shows how harmful world trade commodity subsidies are. American cotton farmers receive these subsidies for each bushel they produce, which encourages over production. This makes a surplus that is dumped onto the world market, therefore lowering the prices so that the African countries livelihoods are vastly undercut. A reform of these subsidies would vastly improve these poorer countries welfare, approximately ten million people. By removing these subsidies the global price of cotton could then raise by six to fourteen percent, thus giving the African families five to twelve percent for their wares. This could be seen as a very charitable act indeed if the world leaders could see it in their power to make it happen.
Another reason for aid not reaching its destination would be corrupt officials and militiamen in war torn countries. Often the people that really need this aid probably will not even see it, as these corrupt and greedy officials will just take the packages for themselves.
The richer countries could help too by opening up markets for unrestricted trade. The poorer countries only need to increase their exports by one percent and millions of people would be taken out of slavery. They face tariffs four times higher than their counterparts and so end up paying twice what they receive in aid.
The instances that I’ve outlined thus far are undoubtedly extremely bad news and much could be done to improve them, but it is certainly not the case for all charities. There are some very worthy causes out there that do bring much needed relief in many ways. The N.S.P.C.C., British Heart Foundation, Help the Aged to name but a few.
I will briefly write about the British Heart Foundation who relies on what people can donate, for free, which they sell in their shops on the high street. The money that they make goes into research and treatment in order to help people suffering from heart disease and other related illnesses to improve quality of life. There is always a friendly face to serve you who will be a volunteer.
They also have a relatively new scheme (accessible online too) called BHF discoveries. This is instead of buying the usual presents like chocolates or flowers for example, where you can buy heart repair kits, cardiac arrest predictors, gene hunters and safer surgery for a chosen recipient. There are various price plans also, depending on what you want to spend, as well as an option to send an E- card to your chosen friend if you believe gift boxes to be a drain on resources. This is to ensure that as much as possible of your donation goes as far as possible to the cause, i.e. vital research for the prevention of these diseases. A very worthwhile cause and one that I myself use when on a trip out to the high street I.E. their charity shops,.
So, as you can see, it is good to give and to help others but with a little research it is possible to check and track exactly where your money is going to end up. There are certainly some rogues out there as well as some charities riddled with administration charges.
The next time that you feel that you want to help somebody or something that is worse off than yourself it certainly would be worth giving a little thought rather than that “knee jerk” reaction. It really is GOOD to help others though.