Charity Starts on Facebook… Or Does It?

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Many of you reading this will already have taken part in the latest craze to sweep social media. If you haven’t yet posted your very own no-make-up selfie, then you are a bad person and you deserve to get cancer.

If you haven’t posted your own no-make-up selfie, you don’t care about others suffering.

If you haven’t posted your own no-make-up selfie, you’re too worried about what other people think about your appearance.

If you haven’t posted your own no-make-up selfie, you have no soul.

So much for peer pressure being a problem you grow out of when you leave your teenage years behind you.

Of course, I see the merits in the campaign. It’s great to see so many people trying to make a change in an area we all too often feel powerless to help in. So why does the campaign leave such a bad taste in my mouth?

It’s the same story every year with Comic and Sports Relief. People believe that by donating three quid to a charity every now and then, they’re free of any charitable obligations for the next year. “I’ve done my bit”, the statuses say, “Now it’s your turn.”

But how often do people truly sit back and consider what “I’ve done my bit” means? The choice of tense says it all. “Done”. Above all, charities need consistent, dependable donations, not an influx of millions one month, only to tail away the next. Like any organisation, charities need to balance their books, work out how to spend the money they have, and make reliable projections on commitments they are able to make. Unfortunately, while well-meaning, campaigns like the “no make-up selfie” bring none of this reliability and predictability. Charities end up forced into a position where the amount of money they have has to be offset against the future, rationed out over months, years maybe.

Let’s assume you want to donate three pounds. Would it really be a huge financial hardship to pledge a pound a month for a year? Admittedly, this works out as four times as expensive, but most people can find a pound spare at the end of the month, or for those who really struggle, put a pound a month into a sensible budget. This gives the dependable, predictable income that charities so desperately need.

I haven’t posted a no make-up selfie. Or, more accurately, I’ve posted approximately 900 of them. If you’re the same, and you find yourself wanting to change the world… if you really want to make a difference, if you want your contribution to be valued and as effective as it can possibly be, then pledge a fixed amount a month by setting up a direct debit or a standing order. UK taxpayers, make sure to gift-aid it too.

If you’ve already donated your £3, or you’ve posted your selfie, please think about the long-term future of your giving. Scattergunning a few quid here and there does not help a charity anywhere near as much as you’d like to think. Pick a charity and stick with it. And don’t be afraid to ignore the peer pressure. Just because you haven’t posted your selfie doesn’t mean you’re doomed to forever be remembered as the one who didn’t take part.

Change the world, a little at a time, but do it your way.

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