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Fashionista ~ Career Woman ~ Op Shopper ~ Online Shopping Addict ~ Bargain Hunter ~ Child Rearer ~ Book Reader ~ Social Commentator

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Liptember, Frocktober, Movember....

I donate quite a bit of money to charity, and I admire the work that most charities do. But is it just me, or are charities getting so creative and proactive in their marketing, that it’s getting a bit overwhelming?
This year to date, I have donated to friends who participated in the following, or participated myself:
  • Live Below the Line (donated to a group of colleagues who participated)
  • 40 Hour Famine (colleagues again)
  • RSPCA Paws walk (another colleague)
  • City to Surf, Sydney (donated to a big group of friends)
  • Canberra Fun Run (for the Heart Foundation) (a smaller group of friends)
  • Jump rope for heart (colleagues’ children)
  • Cupcake day for RSPCA (workplace initiative, these were yummy)
  • Daffodil Day (I must admit I love this one, there’s nothing like buying a bunch of pretty daffodils to brighten ones day - a friend did the selling)
  • Girls night in for cancer, in the form of a potluck dinner & donation (attended, friend organised)
  • Perth stair climb (donated to friend who participated)
  • Relay for Life (donated to friends)
  • Red Cross Collection (donated to friend who was collecting)
  • St Vincent De Paul CEO Sleep out (workplace initiative which I donated to)
  • The Great Shave (a friend shaved her head, of course I supported her)
  • Various charity quiz nights, a charity lunch (for Unicef I think it was) and probably more that I’m forgetting.
Then I got asked to join Frocktober. While I like frocks very much, and this idea is particularly cute, I feel like I am being asked for donations from every side, and it’s getting a bit much. I don’t want to be the person who is bugging others to sponsor me, when they are no doubt in a similar situation… 
 In September, you can do Liptember- wear lipstick for women's mental health. In October, it’s Frocktober. In November, it’s Movember. A few of the boys at work have organised to do this (and it IS pretty cool, it’s always amusing to see people growing a mo!). Then there’s the telemarketers (I am on the do not call list, but they still call) and the door knockers, who I just cannot say no to. 
I feel terrible about feeling overwhelmed, and I very rarely refuse to donate… but goodness me, the pressure is intense! I think that instead of donating, if I had the time (which I do not at the moment), I would prefer to volunteer. I have always loved the Starlight Foundation kids’ room at Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital in Perth, where you can brighten the lives of very sick children and their families. One day I hope to be able to make a long term commitment to volunteering there. I have also in the past volunteered for the cerebral palsy association, which is another worthwhile cause – disability services are so underfunded and these hospices or schools can really make a difference to the children who attend them, and definitely their families.
I have also done quite a bit of volunteer work overseas. In Costa Rica it was a ‘paid’ volunteering trip (through ISV), where we paid ISV to organise for us to go and work with endangered turtles. I don’t think I got much out of the experience, it seemed that the volunteers were more of a hindrance than a help to the scientists doing the conservation work... the only contribution we were really making was in the form of payment to our host families (for board and lodging), a supplement to their meagre incomes which reduces the risk they will resort to poaching turtle eggs.
Then there was the school in India for underprivileged children that I taught at. The students were slum children who would not have gotten an education otherwise. They were not the poorest of the poor (these children have to scavenge, work or beg and can’t take any time out for schooling), but many of the children’s families were making a sacrifice to allow their kids to attend the school. Although the families incurred no costs (the children lived at the school and were given full board, donated clothes etc.), they were losing a source of labour. I’m not talking about child labour in sweatshops necessarily, but children working with their parents (selling newspapers or flowers on the street, farming) or doing childcare or domestic duties so that their parents can be out and working.
Very few of the children who attended to school would stay long enough to graduate, because eventually they would be called home to help out there. It made me wonder whether the few years of schooling that the children were getting would really improve or make any difference to their lives in the long term.
Working at the school was a worthwhile experience, although when you see the extent of the social disadvantage in India, and the tiny impact that a disproportionately large amount of resources are making at one organisation, it’s tempting to just let economic progress take its course. This sense of disillusionment explains why I prefer to donate to Australian based charities, especially those that engage in medical research and could really make a difference (to people all over the world) in the long run.
Do you support any specific charities? Or have any strong views on the work that charities do?

1 comment:

  1. I have always preferred to volunteer as I have little money left over at the end of the day. I started volunteering when I was just 5 years old and even started a not for profit in my early twenties (that is now a national organisation - I resigned last year when I needed to go to hospital for quite some time). I not only worked admin and did the work our volunteers did - I did crazy things like skydiving (when I am terrified of heights) in order to raise funds that were desperately needed. When I ran my own business (as a photographer) I also donated my time/work to charities and also gave packages for auctions/raffles ect.

    I do take issue with some charities who knock back volunteers and instead want money and pay large (ridiculous) salaries to their CEO's. There will always be people who love the work enough and truly believe in it that will volunteer. I also can't stand the people who get paid a percentage of the child sponsorships, they are they usually ridiculously pushy and rude...just because I might not be able to sponsor a child today doesn't make me a bad person. Grrr. BUT that isn't to say I don't believe in donations (our little not for profit would not have gotten off the ground without that sort of help) I just think whatever people can give, should be taken and utilised.

    ok stupid rant over :P

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