The headline in today’s ‘Times’ concerns the aggressive behaviour of some charities toward donors and those perceived as potential donors, and so I thought I might share some of my own views.
I have always given to charities, but I am selective on the matter of to whom and what I will give. I have a favourite to which I give regularly – a care home for elderly people run by an order of nuns. The fact that I have no religious faith does not matter here – I think they do a good job with love and care. I get a very courteous greetings card at Christmas and almost always put a cheque in the post to them, for which I am graciously thanked and told that prayers are offered for me. Bless them. And if I sell one of the oil paintings I do from time to time I don’t take money, but ask the person who is buying the painting to contribute instead to this good cause. That way I don’t get into complicated tax wrangling. And if a young person is helping to pack bags at the supermarket checkout I like to ask all about what they are collecting for, and as well as dropping a pound into the bucket I congratulate them and wish them well. I just admire them, and they are always courteous and never pushy.
I will give to medical charities, but again to those less ‘popular’ with the sympathetic (and sentimental) public, and in particular to such as Alzheimer’s and mental health issues. The Salvation Army does good work, but as a non-believer I know that they are convinced that I am destined for Hell, being the sort of sect they are. I do forgive them for that though.
But I do find being approached by ‘chuggers’ in the street, a common enough occurrence, annoying. And it’s not a one off donation they want, I am told, but a commitment to more regular giving. I have no problem dealing with such: a charming young man or woman approaches me with an opening gambit along the lines of ‘may I have a minute of your time?’ to which I reply, politely, ‘no you may not’ and walk by. I don’t make an excuse. Why should I?
The charities I do favour are those that help the seriously marginalised and underprivileged – such as the elderly as I have mentioned, and the addicted and the homeless. The ‘Cinderella’ groups. I am less enamoured of most of the children’s charities – which may shock some of you – and animal charities. For if children are being neglected or ill treated it is simply a national disgrace and it is our government that should be addressing that, and imposing taxes to fund it. And so far as animals are concerned, the main problems seems to be that there are just too many of them. People who mistreat animals should be up in front of the courts. And if people can’t afford vetinary care for their pets, then they shouldn’t have pets. No-one has a ‘right’ to own an animal. I don’t have a pet because I know too well that to care for one properly demands huge commitment and not a little sacrifice. Instead I feed my garden birds who seem very appreciative, not only of the food I put out but also of the fact that there will not be a feline on the prowl in my back yard. Those are seen off with a gentle squirt from a hose pipe. Actually I like cats for their beauty, but not for their destruction or defaecating on my grass. So off they go.
As for mail from charities that comes through my door – in to the recycling it all goes (other than the Christmas card from the nuns). I just think it a dreadful waste of trees,