I’m not a hard hearted uncharitable person but whenever these things get posted through my letterbox I feel a certain uprising of bile. An upsurge of suspicion and impatience. And then I invariably scoop them up and put them straight into the rubbish bin. I’ve done it for years. I don’t think I have ever filled one up and left it outside for collection.
I am, of course, talking about charity bags.
Pretty much every week some chancer who plainly can’t take a hint insists on shoving one of these tacky plastic bags through my door. They want old clothes, shoes, fetish gear, gimp masks, post amnesty assault rifles, bedsteads and Anderson Shelter manuals – basically anything; anything at all that you don’t want anymore and that you would normally Freebay onto a deserving person; anything that they can then sell on the black market in Europe and make quite a nice tidy sum for themselves thank you very much.
Because this is the disheartening truth.
Most of these so called charity bags collections are not done to alleviate the suffering of the poor but are done to inflate the bank accounts of a few dodgy individuals who believe that charity starts and ends at home. Preferably yours.
Some of the less dodgy ones do send some of the money on to the charities they claim to support but we are talking the tiniest percentage here; the smallest amount they can skim off the top. According to recent research by the British Heart Foundation we are talking as little as 5%.
And this is sad and it is wrong. I mean here I am celebrating my cynicism because it has saved me from being duped but actually that’s an appalling indictment of society. People organize a charity collection and my first reaction is to say, “yeah right, as if” and bin the collecting bag.
The people that truly lose out are, as always, the poor and the needy.
But it is the likes of you and me who are also being cheated. We’re cheated when we donate stuff and imagine that it will be going to a good home; that it will help make someone’s life a little better. That we are doing a good and useful thing. It leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Especially when we are all tightening out belts at the moment and these ‘charity collectors’ are making a very nice tidy living out of our cast-offs.
Karen and I have never responded to cold callers – not to sellers and not to charity workers. Not ever. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it feels mean. But our ethos has always been when we give to charity we will choose the charity for ourselves and organize the nature of the donation ourselves. It is the only way to be sure that the donation is going to the right people and not into the pockets of some muck-grubbing scheister.
So there you have it. Proof, if any were needed, that the world is as screwy as it’s ever going to get: charity and cynicism go hand-in-hand like love and marriage.
Tough love: it’s the only way.
Do give generously.