Actually Give To Charity
Instead of just saying we do.
Here’s the thing about giving to charity: most of us don’t. It’s your classic “Must go to the gym” situation, your basic “I’ll spend less time on my phone” resolution. It’s the thing we all say we’ll do and never bother with and feel bad about and then forget.
Here at Zero Towers we get our water from a tap, not from a dirty well or a stream that doubles as a toilet. Here in Blighty we eat when we’re hungry because we have food all the time. When we’re ill we catch colds as opposed to malaria. As children we went to school because we could afford to not work and because our mums made us even when we had very genuine tummy aches. Our end of the stick has been relatively shit-free. We can afford to give something to people holding the other end. We know we can. And yet… we can also afford iPads and they’re more fun.
That makes fundraising difficult. It’s why street fundraisers only ask for a fiver a month; it’s harder for us to say we can’t afford it. We still do. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, only about a quarter of us give to charity every month. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, fewer and fewer of us are giving at all. But even if we experience a guilt-based epiphany, even if we whip out a calculator and realise we can afford to lose that £1.15 a week and that if everyone in the country did the same we’d be giving £250 million a month, we should still lay off the back-patting because if we’re honest we know, deep down, that five quid a month is still a bit shit.
There are, of course, millions of people living on or below the poverty line who would genuinely struggle to give more than about 50p a year. I’ve done my time on disability benefits, and I’m aware it’s hard to be generous when life is about saving 7p on a dented can of beans. But the average household income in the UK is about £29,000. Don’t tell me a fiver is undoable for most of us. Don’t tell me a fiver is the most most of us can give. A fiver is shit.
Let’s look at the back-patting extravaganza that was the response to the 2004 tsunami. We saw lives destroyed on Boxing Day and together the UK donated £392 million to the DEC Appeal, throwing around words like ‘unprecedented’. Here’s another word: stingy. We’re talking an average of £6 per person. That’s crap. Even if we’re generous and say a third of the country genuinely couldn’t afford to give any money we’re still talking £9 each. And this is our record breaker! This is us at the height of our generosity! Nine quid while we’re up to our tits in freshly unwrapped presents.
Well not us! Not us Zeroes! We’ll sign up for monthly giving because charities like to have committed givers they can rely on, but we’ll give more than the entry-level fiver. We’ll skip a couple of pints and buy a bunch of trees to slow climate breakdown. We’ll go without a couple of movies and have Care International build someone a bog. We’ll admit five pairs of trainers is enough, we’ll be ashamed of that triple-figure designer T-shirt we’re lusting after and give solid chunks of money to people who’ll do better things with it.
And don’t panic. Our Actually Giving Policy doesn’t mean forcing you into poverty. It means giving more by buying slightly less, helping more but still buying plenty. Rest assured our materialism, our mass consumerism, our attempts to fill our aching, empty souls with unnecessary purchases will continue. I can afford to buy stuff and give stuff away. I just need to get past the mental block that tells me I can’t. I can. You can too. So let’s.
Actually give to charity
I mean, actually give to charity
As in, actually give to charity
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Like most of you, when I first saw WALL-E I assumed it was a documentary and was relieved to find we had at last discovered a solution to the madness of short-term landfillery. However, on attempting to contact and marry EVA, Pixar security guards informed me not just that I would be charged with breach of the peace but also that the film was a work of speculative fiction.
Devoted as you are to yer man The Zero, and as closely as you monitor my good works, you’ll be aware I do the odd bit of fundraising in spite of hating it almost completely. The past few years I’ve been meddling with Yaknak Projects, a small charity set up by a few friends to run two children’s home in Nepal. They need £16,000 a year to keep the homes running, a delightful spot of constant pressure that cheers them greatly.
As you’d expect from a man in my position, I have literally thousands of children. The groupies that gather at the foot of Zero Towers are as fertile as they are up for it, and the rise of my master race is progressing nicely. Sadly, due to the sheer size of my collective progeny, all of whom are disabled rad-fems, I am unable to support any of them financially or emotionally, thus creating twice as many social problems as I was hoping to solve.
So there I was a few weekends back, minding me own business, spending a reasonably pleasant day in the company of friends, or at least people paid to be friendly towards me on account of how my fame prevents anyone getting too close, when I witnessed what can only be described as a road traffic accident, being as how it was an accident involving traffic that took place on a road. I won’t lie to you: it was full on proper scary.
With the Olympics all done with and the Paralympics prepping itself for interest considerably less feigned than usual, it’s time to reflect on the heroes at whom we marvel, the champions who capture our hearts, the icons who inspire a generation. Jessica Ennis. Usain Bolt. Me.
That whooshing sound round the back of your head was February going past us and past me and past this blog in particular. Being as how I’m spending my days chained to the desk writing essays and my nights chained to the desk drooling on them, the old do-gooding has taken a back seat of late. Unless you count the social work. Which no one does. Tell people you want to be a social worker, they make like you’ve offered them a glass of cancer flavoured piss.
The problem with this social work lark is although I’m getting stuck in to solid gold do-gooding on a daily basis, the confidential nature of it all means it ain’t worth shit for blogging. I go out, I do good, I come home, I write essays, I use every drop of energy and I’ve got on non-blogging activities and meanwhile this place gets neglected and cobwebbed and dusty and forgotten, going all potty and Miss Havisham and playing bridge with Buster Keaton.
You’ll recall how last year I finally worked up enough balls to give up a safe job in the middle of recession and go back to uni. And how I’m now training as a social worker, taking my meddler status from amateur to professional. You’ll recall all of this because you are, in the act of reading this blog, engaging in the last legal form of stalking. You’re watching me from afar, waiting for the right moment to ask for an autograph, tell me you’re my biggest fan, or take me to your underground den of torture and have me as your bride.
They say the word ‘hero’ is overused these days, applied to anyone who kicks a ball into a net or resists the metric system or rescues orphans from a burning paedophile ring. But I’d argue in some cases the word ‘hero’ is not used enough. I’m thinking particularly here in the case of me.