Sunday, 12 November 2017

Dear Homeowner ...

It’s that time of year again. Not just the whole Christmas thing, the tinsel and carols and mince pies, the presents that must be bought for those we love and those we ought to love ... it’s that time of year when we are bombarded by pleas from charities.

Here in the UK it is now illegal to send begging letters to named people - so I can no longer get the ‘Dear Jo, Here is a picture of a little deaf girl who will only ever be able to hear unless you send her £20 a month ...’ But they are allowed to send the same letter to ‘Dear Homeowner...’ and, since they have our names and addresses anyway, they can still target the same people year after year.

In times of austerity we depend on charities to fill the space that used to be filled by government or council grants. On top of that, organisations such as the lifeboats, the air ambulance, major medical research programmes, support for families where someone is dying from cancer, women’s refuges (the list is endless) have always relied on donations. The government’s contribution has always been a drop in the ocean of international need and so charities must pick up the slack there, too. (I’ve written about that, in ‘Everlasting’, by book about Malawi).

It seems that the charities have, collectively, decided that this season of goodwill and generosity is the time we are most likely to part with a little extra. If we can find £10 to buy socks for Great Aunt Nell then surely we can find a bit more to feed a starving child.

Many of us can - and do. We do our best, and wish we could do more. 

I am also sure there are some that have the money but who never give a penny to charities; they may have their reasons but I’m not going to guess. But there are also thousands, possibly millions, struggling to find enough to give Santa a hand this year and who simply cannot dip into their pockets to meet the needs of others. Smiles on the faces of their own children on Christmas morning must come first.


Which is why I struggle with this annual bombardment of Christmas appeals. I believe that most of us do the best we can on the charity front - and that means some can give more than others. That’s how it is. Nobody should be made to feel bad simply because they have fallen on hard times and don’t have enough to share at any time of year.

6 comments:

  1. Right. Second attempt. I wrote a comment and my laptop turned itself off before I could publish it. Anyway, I agree, Jo. It's a difficult one. For my part, I try and look at who needs help around me first and then spread out from there. We all have limited means and can only do so much. Despite that, at least the letters we are flooded with bring awareness and even if just a few people contribute, maybe it makes it worth all the canvassing.

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    1. Thanks for this. There isn’t a right answer, is there? I do understand that charities are up against it - and so are families on low incomes with inflation at 3%. We do what we can.

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  2. Unfortunately it can sometimes have the opposite effect. I dare not risk giving to one particular charity again, because they asked me for twice as much this year. Next year, it will be four times as much as my original donation. I can't say many other charities are less deserving but I don't always remember the ones that don't contact me. As you say, we can only do our best

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  3. I have two close friends working for NGOs 'in the field' and their advice is always this: find an organisation, charity, NGO you can trust and stick with it. Remember that large charities spend a considerable amount on advertising. Whichever one you decide to support, stick with it. Year after year. No matter how small your contribution. Steady support is what keeps the work going. I have lived and travelled in so many places (not as much as you do!) and I don't feel the need to restrict myself to *home* as I have received so much unasked for and generous hospitality in so many places on our planet.

    With this in mind, I have stayed with two small NGOs (one in Uganda, one in Mustang/Nepal), avoided the big charities for years no, and it fills me with great hope when I receive their reports once a year.

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    1. I agree completely - like you, I have a couple of small projects that I support and know that my contributions can make a difference. But I feel for those who feel pressured by the big charities year after .

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  4. I agree. I am one of those who bins the leaflets and flyers that come with my weekend papers straight away. I run a marathon every year now for Cancer Research and I raise money for them. That's as far as I am willing to go.

    Greetings from London.

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