I do not like being TOLD to give money to charity or being manipulated into feeling embarrassed if I choose not to give.
Standing at the supermarket check-out I noticed a bucket with not very much change in it.
On the outside there was some blurb about raising money for Childline and Help the Aged (I think).
When I opened my purse to get some change out to pay, the cashier helpfully pointed out that I could put my unwanted change in the bucket for charity.
My change is not unwanted by any stretch of the imagination. I also think it is very intrusive and rude to comment on the fact that I have a lot of change in my purse and I should be putting it in the charity bucket.
Nor could anyone fail to miss the large bucket when they are packing their bags. So why point it out unless to try and shame me into giving? All it did of course, was make me even more determined not to give anything.
My charities of choice happen to be:
1 Animal related, usually sanctuaries with a no-kill policy. I’ve paid annual subscriptions to donkey sanctuaries and others in the UK, and given one-off contributions if I’ve seen a street collection that I want to support. I used to give regularly to Hunt Sabs when they had a weekly stand on Saturdays. My four dogs have all been rescued, three from shelters, and the current one adopted us when he was living on the streets.
I cannot abide cruelty and abuse of animals. They are sentient beings, do not wilfully cause anyone any harm and there is no reason to starve, kick, whip, slash, overwork, and/or torture beautiful animals.
2 I also support charities aimed at helping homeless people – and give to (some) people who are living on the streets in Spain. You get to know the ones who are genuinely homeless, rather than the ones who just blow in for the summer holidays.
I can’t imagine not having the security and privacy of your own space, however small. At the end of the day, you can close the door and leave the world outside. The guy who ended up dead in the rubbish bin died without dignity. (Story here if you haven’t read it before.)
3 I have given – sporadically – to charities aimed at helping older people. There is something about the vulnerability of older people, discarded by society as being of no or little use as they age and who become increasingly unattractive and physically/mentally unwell.
Older people are not cute like children, they are not glamorous, they are not even interesting with their boring tales of the past and their superior attitude because they have seen more of life than young ones. Many are lonely – their partner has died, any siblings may have died, or live too far away and have their own lives. Children also have lives elsewhere and rarely visit. That’s for those who even have/had children or siblings or partners. There are those on their own who have little contact with the world – a trip to the shops, and then back into their own microcosm as they live from day to day. I think older people can have a very raw deal.
In the past I have also given to the RNLI, the British Legion (poppy day), and a number of environmental charities, and historic ones too. Despite not being religious I will give to churches for the maintenance of the buildings. For me, life would be less bearable without the art and beauty that we take for granted as part of daily life.
On the rare occasions I buy Christmas cards, I will buy charity ones. If I can’t find charity ones I won’t buy any. In Spain there was little choice, but I managed to find some cards that supported Medicos del Mundo.
What do I consciously avoid?
Charities for children. Plenty of people give to those and it is just not a priority for me.
Medical research charities. The endless search for mythical supercures strikes me as being a poor use of money. I would rather see money spent on improving quality of life for people living in substandard conditions or with chronic medical problems, rather than providing a so-called cure that may add a couple more years of life.
Political parties, religious organisations, gypsies and beggars (ie the ones who actively stick their hands in your face demanding money), any grand-scale organised event whether it is Red Nose Day or PopAThon Event for Africa. None of those have ever had a penny/centimo from me.
So there we have it. My choice of charities – those I give to, and those I don’t. It is still my choice to make though. And not the choice of the cashier in the supermarket.