Give til it hurts

This rant is about charities. Hang on, relax. Wait and see what it is I am actually going to say before you get all huffy! This not about established charities that do good work, as (almost) all do. It’s about a particular phenomenon that has only recently come into being – perhaps in the last thirty years or so. WARNING: you may consider the contents of this rant uncharitable, which would be ironic, but understandable, I suppose.

Whenever anyone loses someone, it is sad. Whether it’s a child or a parent, a sibling or a friend, it is always, always sad. And we should grieve for our loss. That’s fine. No one is suggesting otherwise.

What is not fine, however, is then SETTING UP A CHARITY.

If your child died of an illness, or a car, or some other misfortune, there is no need to set up a charity.

If your parent died of cancer, there is almost definitely no need to set up a charity.

If your best friend was killed by a drunk driver, there is categorically no need to set up a charity.

And, this is the one that has annoyed me and prompted this rant, if your father set up a charity and then died in a car crash, there is no need to set up ANOTHER charity.

Why?

BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY THOUSANDS OF CHARITIES COVERING YOUR TOPIC. All you are doing is diluting the funds available and spreading them across more organisations, so that each gets less to do the same work. And that’s just plain stupid, if you have genuinely charitable aims.

In fact, there are already so many charities, that there is a UK comparison website! It’s called Charity Choice! Link here. They list over 160,000 of them. Read that again. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND. And that’s just in the UK alone! Imagine how many there must be in the whole world! Yours is probably not needed. Chances are, there is a charity that is already working for the cause that is so close to your heart that it only entered your head after someone died.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, there are gaps. I happen to work for one such charity, which was set up in someone’s memory, but it serves a portion of society that until then had not had a voice, advocate or charity to publicise it. I refer, of course, to The Separated Child Foundation, which cares for unaccompanied refugee children who arrive in the UK with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. Prior to the foundation of this extremely worthwhile charity, there was no one specifically working for and aiming their efforts at these children. Some did it ‘on the side’, so to speak, whilst helping other refugees, but none were aiming specifically at these lost children.

So there can be a reason to found a charity. But more often than not, there isn’t. If your loved one died of cancer, for example, the Charity Choice website lists 262 charities that you could fundraise for. If you lost someone to heart disease, there are 66 charities, covering issues from Marfan Syndrome to Arrythmia.

You don’t need to start from scratch to make a difference. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to do something to prevent your loss happening to others in the future. All you need to do is give to, or volunteer to help out with, a perfectly good charity that already exists. Stop diluting the pool of money available by splitting it into smaller and smaller portions.

The stimulus for this rant was one Miss Meadow Walker, sixteen-year-old daughter of actor Paul Walker, who died in a car accident in 2013. In his lifetime, Paul was not just a film and television actor, he was also interested in helping people. And to that end, he set up a charity, called Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW). This brings together experienced first responders and sends them to disasters as fast as possible – firefighters, medics, etc. That’s a brilliant thing, and their website shows they have done some amazing work on the ground, all over the world.

But this is not good enough for Meadow. Oh no, she can’t possibly give to an EXISTING charity for an issue that was so close to her father’s heart that he built a charity from scratch to address it. She has to set one up. From scratch. And announce it on what would have been his birthday.

Instead, she wants a wildlife charity, around marine biology. This is purely an ego stunt. It may have helped her with her grief to plough her energies into this, but the world already has quite a few marine conservation charities. All she is doing is spreading the available goodwill a little thinner, and hoping that her father’s name will be enough to attract to funds, which presumably will be attracted from other, equally deserving and better-established charities doing the same work.

Bravo, Meadow. Yet another vanity project enters the world. I hope it does do some good, but I fear the opposite.

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