When did charity start to get so boring?
Yesterday I was in the centre of Bristol, and there was the usual modern sort of charity collector we’ve all seen a million times before.
There he was, permanent grin on his face, swirling a clipboard round and throwing it around like a fucking circus entertainer.
“Alright ladies?” he says in far too over-friendly a manner, as two poor women he’s never met before try to wander past him.
It’s every man for himself though, so I used the fact he was distracted by a couple of attractive girls to pass by without him “raising awareness” of my bank details, to set up a Direct Debit for their monthly payments.
When did it come to this?
When I was at primary school, I remember we had a charity day of sorts. It involved everyone bringing in some spare change, with the aim being to cover the entire school hall from corner to corner, in money. As a kid, this seemed quite fun.
There might have even been a bit of an Art Attack angle to it, with some sort of picture or pattern, made via the placement of the different colours of coins. Fun.
I used to be a member of a charity organisation myself actually.
Although my part in it had nothing to do with fundraising, as part of my commitment to the organisation, every member was supposed to hang around for a couple of days in Christmas, shaking tins and begging people for money.
I never partook in this for the whole time I was there.
I thought “I hate those people who pester me for money outside Sainsburys – I don’t want to be one of them.”
Also, as our organisation was media-related, surely we could do better than that?
When the Bristol Folk House (a kind of adult-education centre by day, music venue by night) needed to raise funds a couple of years ago, they set up a music night with BCfm (a local community radio station that also needed to additional funds), and split the profits.
There’s a night of music and entertainment, broadcast on the radio, that raises awareness of some upcoming musicians, the Folk House and BCfm, while helping to bring in needed finance to two local businesses.
I recently attended the Bristol #Twestival.
This is predominantly a way of raising money for charity, but has the nice by-product of becoming a night out, and the chance to meet people you’ve been chatting to on Twitter.
I was concerned about even buying a ticket. I worried I would be sold-to, from the moment I got in the door. Although I’m not heartless, I’m not affording to live at the moment, so additional spend is really not possible.
Why did I even think I’d be given the hard sell?
Well, I went to a comedy gig a while back for charity.
Ticket sales went to the charity, and all profits from the bar.
There was a short break between each act, during which I was forced to watch a horrible slideshow of African children in harrowing conditions.
To cheer myself up a bit, I joked this is like a catalogue that Madonna gets at Christmas.
To shake up the monotony of Powerpoint Poverty, they sent people round to the tables to flog you armbands, roses (“for your girlfriend”) and any other crap they could make a profit on.
The headline act didn’t come on til 11pm, by which point I was completely fed up, exhausted, and I’d been repeatedly made to feel like I hadn’t given enough.
I was worried the #Twestival might be the same, but I was surprised.
It was £5 for a ticket.
Then, on entry, I was given the chance to check my coat “but wait and see if it’s hot in there before you do”. No pressure at all.
I was shown further in by a volunteer, who advised me where I could buy cake/drinks/raffle tickets.
There was no requirement to buy anything, and I wasn’t given the hard sell.
I bought a large slice of cake for the nominal fee of £1, because I hadn’t had any tea yet.
Ticket sales went to charity, as did the coat-check fees. There was a raffle held, with tickets for a £1 (or 5 tickets for £4), with prizes donated by local businesses. Instant exposure for local businesses, plus more money going to charity.
At the end of the night they topped their target, by some margin, and everyone was a winner, baby. That’s the truth.
I spent maybe £12 the entire night, with £10 of that going to charity.
I guess that’s another issue I have with the charity muggers on the street.
They might give it the sympathy vote when they come to your door and talk to you about the ones they’re raising money for, but don’t be fooled by the idea they’re doing it because they care.
Street/door fundraisers earn £7-£10 per hour, and some are on commission for sales.
Some are paid per hour for the travel time to get to the city centre.
See this current advert from a recruitment website:
Clearly charity muggers on the street do work, because otherwise they wouldn’t have them.
I’m not saying you can run a night of entertainment every night of the week (or that it would continue to bring in money), but begging for money, and attempting to guilt-trip me into it, is surely the lowest form of charity.
Recently, I was offered the chance to work for a company (in a call centre) phoning people at home and trying to shoehorn Direct Debits out of them.
I had emails from the company who found my details on a recruitment website, and an agency who got me to register, then offered me the same job.
It would seem sensible, given that I’m not affording to live at the moment, to take such an offer. But who wants to be told “fuck off!”, 50 times a day? Not me. I wouldn’t want to be one of those. You can’t even even distract them with pretty girls and cross the street to get away.