Don't get me wrong, I have been a keen supporter of charity all of my life. I am a firm believer that everyone should try and help their fellow man, also that a society should be judged on the way they handle the less fortunate amongst them. A bit of my background:
- My first taste of any form of work was helping out on a market stall raising money for Multiple Sclerosis.
- During my time University I volunteered in a charity shop that was raising money for a children's home in Kenya called Kanyawegi and during the holidays I volunteered for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
- I've raised money for countless others - mainly though when I ran the Bath Half Marathon in 2007 I raised money, again for Marie Curie.
- I also try not to throw things out that could be used by charity shops - in fact I currently have a bag of clothes waiting to be donated to a local charity shop on Saturday.
With regards MCCC, at the time cancer charities were quite important to me, as I'm sure most people at some point lose a loved one to this terrible illness, so I really wanted to feel like I was helping in some small way.
But recently I've started to realise just how small and almost meaningless this contribution was to MCCC. Yes, they need funding, however they do obtain funding from a wide variety of sources, and their costs incurred to obtain donations are considerable. I still think it is a great charity - however it is not something that I feel like I make a difference. As James says:
"The American Cancer Association might be a great charity. But what will my dollars do for them? Nothing. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are spending $100 billion on eradicating cancer, AIDS, malaria. Other billions are fighting every major cause out there. The baby boomers are about to leave behind $9 trillion. Hopefully a good chunk of that will go to charity. They can handle all of the major causes. My money will make zero difference. And I have no way of doing due diligence on the charity so I won’t know how my dollars are being spent."
Next to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and the likes, my donations don't even touch the surface, they are still at the top of the mountain trying to break into the small stream, before it becomes a river and finally trying to become a drop in the ocean. My contributions to charities like that make no difference at the end of the day - it may be selfish but I'd much rather be a Superhero, make a big difference to just a few people's lives than try and fail to save everyone. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad about giving to charity, far from it, it's just my personal preference.
What I'm doing instead
That's why at the start of the year I accepted a position as Treasurer of a small local charity - Bath Child Contact Centre. This charity sets up a safe, neutral place for children to meet up with relatives whom they otherwise wouldn't have contact with. Referrals have to be made through a negotiator e.g. The Courts, CAFCASS, Solicitors or Social Services. This may not sound as fancy as fighting cancer but it really can make a difference to kids' childhoods.
As treasurer I can really see what their money is spent on and how much is needed, unlike major charities, the only employee cost (one employee) is directly employed with regard the end product. They mainly however rely on volunteers who run the centre on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately due to local council cuts they are expecting a funding shortfall for 2012-13 year as the majority of the funding is far from certain. That is why I am ending this post with a request - I am running the Bath Half Marathon next month (March 11th) for the first time in 5 years. I've had to get myself considerably fitter over the past 5 months or so to stand a chance of making the course and now with under a month to go I'm actually feeling confident. So anyway, my request is, for those of you who like giving to charity but don't like not knowing where your money ends up or if it makes a difference, please give to one of your local organisations (there will be plenty you've never heard of) where you will really make a difference to people around you that you ordinarily don't notice - or failing that sponsor me and give to mine, be a Superhero (even just £2 would be greatly appreciated!):