Friday, 8 March 2013
Charitable Giving - Altruism, Duress, or Guilt?
Originally I had intended to once again visit the subject of giving to charities - money that is - not any other form of giving.
Having worked on my bank statement and household accounts yesterday, I found myself writing no less than eight cheques to various charities.
Now I am not an idiot, don't all shout at once, and I do know that there has to be a balance between what one would like to do, and what is possible.
Sometimes the boundaries become blurred and I have, more than once, found myself with too little money left to last the month.
I have a system, briefly this is it: I give by direct debit to six charities every month. These were ones on which John and I agreed and as far as I am concerned these are set in tablets of stone.
The problem which grew out of all proportion fairly recently, was that I was receiving upward of thirty appeals a month from other charities.
I devised a system whereby an appeal is put into my pending tray until my monthly cheque writing day, when I check it against my accounts sheet for the previous months. If they have been given money in the past 3 months, the appeal is shredded. If not they get a cheque.
These are all charities of which I approve and whose work is well monitored and reported upon, but if a new charity, (new to me that is) sends an appeal, I now shred it instantly, since I cannot possibly add any more.
The amounts I give are not enormous but, when the system works, which it mostly does, it means that the charity will receive a cheque roughly three times a year.
In addition I give to the Disasters Emergency Fund, and two other charities on an ad hoc basis about twice a year.
Yesterday I actually sat and worked with a calculator to discover just how much was leaving my bank each month.
The result was staggering, and shocked, I wondered for the first time in my life why I do it.
As I think I have said before, I do not believe in pure altruism, I don't think it exists, there is nearly always some way in which the giver also receives.
Sometimes I think people respond to duress from others and give when they don't really want to, and I also think there is an attempt to relieve guilt by giving.
This is not cynicism, it is simply that I always look for reasons for set behaviours, as opposed to knee-jerk responses to something which appeals to our emotions in some way.
How much is habit.
How much is fear.
How much is innate generosity?
Don't ask me what my motives are, I have no idea.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:14:00 am