Ok it’s time for a rant, grumble or general misanthropic ramble.

It’s a ‘get it off your chest’ blog.

Chuggers. Charity Muggers to be accurate. Those rainbow jumper wearing dreadlocked teen to twenty year olds who try to befriend you to prize your bank details out of you and onto a direct debit form. Yes, they are raising funds for good causes, yes they are being polite but they are also being very forceful, maybe even intimidating and they are not doing it because of a deep-rooted need to help these poor starving/abused/homeless souls. These are paid positions.

These are positions that also bring commission, a bonus per signing . The charitable act you were persuaded to participate in has also been a nice little pay off for the collector. A percentage of the money that is collected will go to paying wages for the hundreds of paid staff in each charity. That’s what my main objection is: Paid charity work.

Charity to me means giving up your time for others, helping raise money, helping by giving your time and effort. Being paid,even earning a commission from a charity goes against my morals.

Charity shops used to be quiet musty smelling old places that couldn’t attract a real business owner,rented out to charities as a way of utilising difficult property. The charity would in turn negotiate a very affordable rent in return for taking on the runt of the landlord’s portfolio.

They would be places you could find a slightly damaged casserole dish or a stretched pullover or a Christmas cardigan. A board game with one piece missing or , best of all for avid readers, a well-thumbed and dog-eared gardening almanac.

Now, in keeping with the upwardly mobile fashionistas fondness for charity goods, the racks are full of designer names priced ridiculously highly and the selves are stacked with hand-made imported tribal art works, commissioned by the charity as exclusive collectables and home ware at twice the price of the equivalent item from a supermarket own brand budget range. Books are still on offer, although they all seem to be Mills and Boon (mainly new untouched copies too) or some c list celebrity autobiography that failed to sell in Waterstones or WHSmith’s clearance bins.

Charity is big business now. And it has gained a ruthless streak.

I have recently tried putting my not inconsiderable weight behind charity and fundraising in particular. I chose Weston Hospicecare as they are a local cause and British Heart Foundation  because a friend who sponsored me on my first event was doing a walk for them and I wanted to help and return the favour. Also because my Mother had suffered from a major heart problem a few years ago.

The first event, a 25 mile cycle ride, proved to hard to find support or even interest from any of my friends, work colleagues or family. I cycle daily and in all weathers and, although never for such a distance, I am known for my stout defence of the bike as an ethical an environmental option for work or social travel. Maybe this detracted from the fact the ride would be hard and that the cause was very worthy, but I struggled to reach what I considered a low target of £100.

My second event was a simple 4 mile walk to support the heart foundation’s latest campaign to discover how heart tissues can repair themselves after damage, such as from a stroke or heart attack. A worthy cause again but a comparatively easy challenge. This in mind, I set my target low, at just £50 and failed to meet it. Most of my frustration was aimed not at my sponsors or lack of them but at the tiny print included on the sponsorship form. Alongside the usual disclaimers and thanks for the support, was the request that any one taking part might raise a suggested minimum donation of £50.

Minimum donation.

That’s wrong. Just wrong.

If a charity is asking for support, freely giving and willingly, then they should or would surely be grateful for whatever amount a donor can afford?

To demand, however politely, a minimum donation, although it is only a suggestion, is surely immoral.

If I am giving up my time and effort and have selflessly nagged my nearest and dearest and practically begged my peers for cold hard cash, insisting on a minimum suggested donation will see me turn on my heels and march off indignantly to an alternative cause to support.

For future reference then, If I am asked to support any cause, however worthy and just, don’t bother suggesting an amount that you’d find acceptable as I’m sure a swift boot to the backside isn’t going to meet your demands!

O.K. That’s my rant over.

Something akin to normal services will resume shortly.


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