Charity

As sometimes happens, motive and opportunity collided last night. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to travel around Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. I also like to do things for charity, so when Cystic Fibrosis wrote to my mum with details of their fundraising ideas, and included was a trek around Iceland, I thought things were coming together brilliantly.

However, things are never that simple, or so it seems. In order to do this charity trek, I would have to pay an entry fee of £299, and pledge to raise at least £2,800 for the charity.

I understand that they don’t want people going along for a cheap holiday. I also understand that obviously they need a reasonable amount of money for administrative costs (I guess they arrange campsites etc for you), but it seems a little extreme to charge £299 just to enter, and then expect you to raise nearly ten times that amount as a minimum. I have requested more information from them just in case I have missed something important.

The thing that I want to know is what happens if I pay my entrance fee, and then fail to meet the fundraising pledge? Suppose I only raise £1,500 – would they refund my fee and then open my space to someone else, who now has less time to raise the much-needed money? By doing so, they would lose out on the £1,800 I had secured them, and risk my replacement similarly being unable to meet the target. Or do they only want people who can guarantee to raise that sort of money?

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could get that sort of money raised. I know this isn’t an accurate measure, but I only have about 170 Facebook friends. Add about a dozen relatives into the mix, and then a couple of dozen more co-workers who aren’t on Facebook, and even the most optimistic estimates would suggest that these 200-ish people would each need to sponsor me £14. Clearly, that’s if everyone sponsors me. I think when I did my 10k run last autumn, I had somewhere in the region of 40-50 people (at a generous estimate) sponsoring me. Given that I’m fishing in pretty much the same pool, that’s 1 in 4 people, meaning that in order to hit my target, I would need each of them to sponsor me about £60.

There are ways in which I could try to increase the proportion of people I know who will sponsor me. However, I am reluctant to pester people until they give in. I think charity should (quite literally) be something you do voluntarily, and because you want to, not because someone you know is twisting your arm and you don’t want to offend them by saying no. Too many charities try to bully you into giving through persistent requests either by post or clipboard-wielding people on your local high street. I don’t want to become like that, and I don’t want people to feel guilty for not giving – there are plenty of charities that I recognise as worthy causes that I don’t give to for one reason or another, be it a lack of ready cash, or the fact that I have charities I rank higher on my own list.

In the end, I think charities shoot themselves in the foot by demanding so much. It reduces the number of people who are able, and – more importantly – willing to give their time and money to the cause.

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