Friday, 5 December 2014

On Charity

I've been thinking about charity quite a lot lately, not sure how i will link everything into this post.....maybe i just wont!

Linda of Practical Parsimony is disabled and a pensioner, her main water supply pipe aged to the point where she lost her water supply and she has been without running water for well over a month now. Linda doesn't have an income that allows for her to easily cover a large unexpected expense but even with a go fund me campaign and appeals to local churches she has not so far been able to raise the money she needs to get the pipe fixed. We gladly donate to put wells in African villages but cant help an elderly american, why is that?

In an African village there is more likely to be social support but in our western cultures the social support is thinner on the ground and we also refuse to throw a few dollars at someone less fortunate. why are we so ungenerous?

In Australia (and I expect the US is similar) many people in Linda's circumstances would be living in public housing and not have to worry about infrastructure but Linda has managed to take care of her own housing so instead of helping out with the bit she cant  manage we penalise her by expecting her to take care of everything. Why do we do that?

Sometimes people give me their hand-me-down clothes because they dont want to just put it in a charity bin. (and I am happy to accept it) but if they dont want the stuff, why do they have any attachment to what happens to it next? why do they think that i am more "worthy" of their cast offs than a stranger?

Today i saw someone on facebook commenting that they had done a clean up and donated some never worn childrens clothing to a charity shop but she thought the (volunteer) workers in the shop were going to take the clothing because it would have good resale value. Really? my experience is that australians are so over privileged that most of the time you cant give stuff away, even when it's good. if the clothes sat in her cupboards, never worn, why does she suddenly care about who gets them? and what has it actually cost her to give her a right to be so attached to the outcome?

i have been trying to watch a Ted talk a day and in this one, the speaker challenges the idea that charities should be aiming for low over heads, suggesting instead that maybe we could allow them the financial freedom to invest and therefore make more of a difference. He has me convinced but i doubt the charities are able to change their approach based solely on my opinion.


  1. I give what I can, where I can (including to Linda) and once I have made the donation it is not my business how it is used.
    And I would be very, very surprised if the volunteers in the charity shop could sell the clothing.

  2. EC,
    i was quite riled about the comments on the charity shop. one part of me will go as far as to say that if they are prepared to volunteer in a charity shop so they can re-sell the donations they almost deserve the cash (not implying the charity shouldnt get the money)


    I come from the so called third world! We are not so bad. There will be exceptions but by and large such women will receive help from neighbours and / or family.

  4. I agree, it's ridiculous that nobody's prepared to pay for Linda's water pipe, although people will happily fork out huge sums for wide-screen TVs and giant freezers.

    Jenny and I couldn't care less what happens to the clothes we donate to the local charity. Who is to say if one person is more "deserving" of them than another? We're just happy to be passing the clothes on rather than dumping them.

  5. ramana,
    in the developed world we are fortunate to have loads of facilities but we have developed this idea that everyone should be entirely independent and it's wrong

  6. nick,
    and books and wine and overseas travel.
    so, who should actually give her the money, would you say?

  7. Um yes, books and wine and overseas travel *coughs and splutters awkwardly*

    Well, you'd think there'd be someone well-off in the neighbourhood who could pay for the new pipe and not miss the money. Or maybe there's some charity that would give one-off payments for that sort of domestic repair.

  8. Kylie,
    Thank you so much for this post. I will tell your followers I live in a wealthy neighborhood who all went to Christmas Eve services and always give to overseas charities. Only one has responded with kind words to find a cheaper plumber when I was already having this plumber work on part I could pay for--the sewer line. Then, he was into the rest.

    My friends here have all gone for various reasons. Two died. One was wealthy and the other had son who could help and knew many people from her area out in the country. Some moved away. one I especially miss for his help with anything I needed doing. If he could not do it, he would find someone who would do it free.

    I am still not quite there with the repair. Now, the faucet is broken, the drains under the sink lead, and the washing machine has a leak.

    One of my readers drove 5 hours, gave me a bed and spent two days. Her daughter washed all the dishes that happened in the seven weeks without water. I slept on the mattress springs for two weeks until a reader paid for a mattress to be sent from a local store. I had slept on the floor for seven weeks. Now, I at least have a bed and some water use and still problems with water.

    The neighbors here would just as soon I leave because my house is shabby.

    Kylie, I wrote to tell you I just read the fiasco with your crockpots. I see those crocks all the time in thrift stores. I have come so close to dropping my crocks that I have had thought of getting a new crock.


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