Obligatory All Year

By |December 29th, 2010|Quick thoughts|0 Comments

This BBC News article has stirred a debate in my head. Who should be responsible for keeping charities afloat? Should the government subsidise the work of organisations’ work to improve things, or is it up to the people to decide who needs the most support?

It is a fine line. On the one hand the government ought to be responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure the citizens it serves are relatively comfortable. If it falls to a charity to lobby for change, provide the change and represent its people then the government is failing in that respect.

On the other hand, the opposing view is that perhaps charities would then be regarded as a means to provide things that do not really matter, which makes them rather pointless.

To illustrate my example, the NSPCC‘s “Full Stop” campaign to stop child abuse is changing children’s lives, thanks to donated money. Does the fact it still exists suggest the government is failing to take care of children? Should the government be funding its work and taking responsibility? Does the independence of the charity from government suggest that the government does not think this is a priority?

They seem like leading questions. Perhaps they are. But you might consider further: if the government took responsibility and were the primary source of funds, would people still be as generous with their donations? How can a government struggling with resources maintain the flow of money to charitable organisations?

Obligatory Christmas

By |November 9th, 2010|Quick thoughts|1 Comment

Christmas is about giving. Most of us agree on that. The expression of our love, care and interest in those close to us is how we celebrate Christmas. But that is changing.

I have heard of at least institution that has proclaimed:

“We have decided this year that instead of sending Christmas cards to each other, we will all donate to a charity.”

Although clearly well-intentioned, it strikes me that there are several things wrong with this directorate (for it was neither a proposition nor a collective decision).

If you don’t understand my gripe, then consider being told not to send Christmas cards at all. In isolation, this seems to me to be an unreasonable order. Also consider being told to donate to a charity of someone else’s choosing.

Both seem a little unsavoury: but when one is used to “offset” the other, combined with the collective pressure placed upon yourself, your peers and colleagues to contribute to a group effort, you might feel compelled to take part.

But why are these two requests combined? Why don’t they suggest that instead of decorating the staff room with tinsel and holly, everyone should donate to the local cat shelter? Why not cancel the Nativity play and ask the children to bring in tins of ravioli for the old people’s home?

Or… you can choose to give people Christmas cards and, if you feel so inclined, you could donate to a charity that you feel strongly for. It’s your Christmas to give!