Why bother?

7 09 2009

Help me. I’m trying to come up with facts to persuade the naysayers to give to charity. I’m thinking of people whose eyes roll heavenwards when they hear, ‘charity’, and who dismiss givers as naive or stupid.

I have come up with nine lines so far. As many as possible are predicated on the fact that self-interest is the best motivator (and that no-one likes to be preached at). Please offer up your reaction/suggestions.

1. It’s good for us
All research on happiness comes to the same conclusion: the more we look outside of ourselves, the happier we get. I’d imagine giving to others is a good sign of looking outwards.

2. You’ll be more popular (probably)
Research on schoolchildren shows that the ones who help charities are more popular, happier and more respected by their peers. Do you think the same might apply to adults?

3. We’re lucky…
We are the lucky country: democracy, peace, sun & showers, plasma TVs, no malaria/ lions/ scorpions/ earthquakes/ hurricanes/ volcanoes, all protected by a moat. Britain is extraordinary and it’s not through any effort of our own. We have lucked out.

4. …but not all of us
Most of us don’t see a fraction of the problems in this country (and who’d want to?). But many problems are there and occasionally they’ll prick your bubble. Gruelling statistics are available but if you don’t have the appetite, believe it: there’s plenty to fix.

5. As for other countries…
If you go to a poor country you’ll meet people with genius in their eyes but you’ll know they will stay poor because they cannot possibly escape their situation. Then you’ll realise it’s not simply your brilliance that explains your nice lifestyle (see 3).

6. Others have paid for us
Great Uncle Cyril and his great uncles shelled out to create wonderful things we take for granted. Apart from hospices, helplines and scanners, this includes life-changing laws (equal rights, free education and healthcare) which charities lobbied for. What wonderful things shall we leave behind?

7. It works
If charities weren’t around, government and business would forget about social needs, the arts would collapse, and young, old, poor, bullied and disabled people would have a very grim time indeed. Charities provide a third of all social services in the UK. The money clearly makes a difference.

8. We’re freeloading
If you have cycled anywhere, been to the theatre, enjoyed a view, been to hospital… a charity has almost certainly paid to improve your experience. Fair dues?

9. You’ll be joining everyone else
The most conservative statistics say 65% of Brits give to charity but most put it nearer to 85%. So if you don’t give you’re in a pretty tight, I mean small, minority.

Naive, stupid, moi?

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