Archives for posts with tag: charity

‘It’s better to give than to receive,’ or so the old saying goes.

Many organisations and institutions rely on donations to fulfil their role in society, even for their survival. A regular donor is worth their weight in gold. Their donor lifetime value is often a very sizeable sum.

And then there are the high net worth individuals who give vast sums. They are of course the holy grail. In very many cases their donation results in something being named after them. The Smith Room/Building/Wing/Stadium/Institute/College; the list of possibilities is long. For the donor this is rewarding and gives them the public acknowledgement and legacy that they probably feel is a fair reflection of their generosity. And why not?

Then there is the other type of donor. The folk that don’t need for there to be a connection between them and the thing that their donation is funding. Anonymous donors are the truly special breed. For them the satisfaction of giving and the knowledge of the benefit it will provide is enough for them. They’re happy to play second fiddle to the receiving organisation. For them the shadows and the light under the bushel.

Anonymus donors have a special kind of nobility.

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or so the saying goes. There’s always some implied barter or quid pro quo implicit in the donation of a free lunch. The donor is expecting something in return – usually.

I was on Liverpool Street in London the other day. There’s usually a homeless man selling the Big Issue near the pedestrian crossing across from one of the station’s exits. He’s not a British national, as you can hear from his extremely chirpy ‘Good morning, ‘ave a good day’, accompanied by a thumbs up, to hundreds upon hundreds of passers-by during the 2 rush hours.

I was feeling particularly virtuous, or so I thought and I went up to buy a copy of the Big Issue from him. Sometimes I will give the Big Issue vendors a quid or two and not take the magazine, but on this occasion I fancied a read. I hadn’t read it for a long time.

A young chap, late 20s I would say, got there first, so I waited behind him. Except that the young chap didn’t buy a Big Issue, or slip him a quid or two. He gave him a lunch, a lunch in a paper carrier bag that he had just bought, and walked off.

What a lovely gesture it was. Thoughtful, easy to do, and for a few quid he’s made the man’s day. I’m slightly welling up as I recount the story. I felt that my own magnanimity has been seriously compromised as I profferred my cash for the magazine, and rightly so.

If we all made the young man’s gesture once every month or two, what a difference that would make.

The lunch donor didn’t look for anything in return, except perhaps his own reflected feel good factor. Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch after all.

Many people are drawn to a charitable concern or cause because they are personally affected by it, or they know someone who is. Obviously there are degrees of interest and commitment, from following a cause on Facebook to actively campaigning and fund-raising for it.

People sometimes, sadly, are responding to a tragedy within the circle of friends or family – often in an area that they had no knowledge of or interest in – and can go on a crusade, putting all of their efforts into helping lessen the burden of others who fall victim to same poor hand of cards that they’ve been dealt. This might involve setting up a fund or a charitable cause in the name of the person affected, or it could be contributing to a cause or body that already exists. It is as a direct reaction to the events that people get involved, when they come face to face with the perspective of others who have had to endure the same fate.

This is, of course, laudable, super worthy and to be applauded. I’m not trying to denigrate the intent and the effort in any way. They are personally invested in the cause. Would they have got involved if someone they knew wasn’t affected by this condition or set of events? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. They’re involved now.

Then there is what I call the genuinely charitable soul. The genuinely charitable soul volunteers on a regular basis and devotes their time into something that is unrelated to their own catalogue of personal experiences. They work for a cause they believe in because they feel it is worthwhile, not because of something that happened to them. They see an area where the playing field isn’t level, and they work to level it.

In this case it’s somewhat similar, though not the same as that of people who work in – ie are paid do deliver – the caring professions. To me the genuinely charitable soul is an extremely rare breed, and one to be cherished.

I have nothing but admiration for those who professionally or voluntarily put other people before themselves and their families. It takes a special type of person to make a success of being in a caring profession. I don’t think I could do it.

I wonder why it is that governments tend to come down particularly hard on the public sector caring professions. Maybe it’s because there are so many of them, composed largely of young people and women, that successive administrations think they can get away with non-existent – or derisory improvements in pay and conditions.

The bodies, like the NHS and the various individual trusts in the UK, and the HSE in Ireland, are often pilloried for being bungling, bureaucratic and buck-passing. The individuals that are employed by them, are usually exemplary.

I’ve had the misfortune to be admitted to hospital a few times on either side of the Irish Sea. On every occasion the staff have been fantastic, plain and simple. Professional, responsive, assuring, the list goes on.

For me, caring professionals fulfil the most important role in society and this is one of the tenets by which I think a life should be lived, and a society should be governed.

It’s all about levelling the playing field.

Everyone should get a fair chance and those that fall on hard times or simple bad luck should where possible be restored to parity to take that chance again. It’s what community and the tribe is all about.

I am lucky to be associated with another area of the caring profession, namely charity.  COPE Galway is a charity that addresses homelessness, domestic violence, and care of the elderly.  Is is all about ‘quality of life in a home of your own’. As you can imagine, at this time of year their work is particularly important.

Last month I got a tour of the various facilities that the charity operates.  No surprise, then, that I found the staff to be fantastic, plain and simple.  Doing important work that benefits the most vulnerable people in our community. If you had a few units of your currency to spare, they could certainly put them to good use.

It’s really important to me and it’s my blog, so I say this again: whatever you do in life, try and make it fairer for all by levelling the playing field.