Saturday, 9 October 2010

Faith, Hope and Emotional Blackmail

In the last couple of weeks, a few people have asked me how long have I lived in London. The answer surprises me. Over nine years. Coming up to a decade. Almost a third of my life, and my entire life post full-time education. An era. Wow.
These musings make me think of what I have achieved since moving to the capital. Although I have always worked in the public sector I am now on a decent wage, live in a decent flat, have savings (decent flat is unfortunately not my own, hence need to save monstrous amount of money for a deposit) and have almost paid off my student loan. Hell, I am almost grown up. About 18 months ago I set up a plan to pay off my debts and start saving, and I am really starting to see the results when I dare to look at my bank statements.
What I am also proud of is my support of charities. I started off my career working for one and now donate money to three organisations on a monthly basis. Okay, so each one only receives a few pounds, but if I was to tot up how much I had given over the last nine years or so... well, probably best I don’t or I’d cancel them all and demand that they pay for a very luxurious holiday for me somewhere hot.
Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t want a medal or anything, and I know that I am not alone in my monthly commitments. But I like to think I have done my bit to make the world a better place. I buy a poppy every year, wear my rainbow of ribbons with pride on the correlating date and buy a copy of the Big Issue once in a while. I’ve even been known to advise homeless people begging on the street where to go to get the help they need.
My problem, though, is the phone calls I get from the charities I donate to on a relatively regular basis, asking me if I have lost someone to cancer, if I’ve heard about the latest natural disaster, or do I want to help fight for the life of the most recent political prisoner. Of course the answer to all these questions is yes, but at the end of the day I have already pledged my support and can’t really afford to give anything else.
The thing that really bugs me, however, is that the people who phone or write to you have already got you sussed out. They know you care, otherwise you wouldn’t have already signed up. And they know you are generous, as you haven’t cancelled the direct debit which has been flying out of your bank account before the money really has chance to register itself as your own. So they pull at your heart strings. They plead with you. They remind you what that extra pound would mean to others, and what little it means to yourself. They make you feel guilty.
This is what I hate. At the end of the day, you are an easy target, so they milk you, knowing you are more likely to cave in than some hard nut who has never given to charity in their life. In all honesty, I find this quite exploitative. They have my contact details, they know I support them, so they get some ex-salesperson to call me and bombard me with shocking news and statistics that will morally outrage me enough to make me hand over more of my cash.
So, why do I mention this now? Well, last weekend I received one phone call and two letters asking for more money. Yes, within the space of 72 hours. I was quite peeved.
And, let’s face it, a blog about giving to charity in London would not be complete without a mention of those lovely touts on the street who will try every method known to man to get you to sign on the dotted line; flattery, humour, stalking, emotional blackmail. I’ll ever forget the man who tried to stop me in the street whom, after I shook my head politely as I walked passed him, shouted after me, “Don’t you have just one minute for the children?”
Yes, I do have a minute for the children. But I don’t have the resources to help everyone. Maybe when my financial situation has steadied itself I will pledge more money to the charities I support, or even a new one or two. But right now, I won’t. So please stop trying to make me feel bad about this and let me get on with my life without feeling guilty.


  1. That's awful!
    I give to charites aswell but I never get phoned up.
    Maybe it's the type of charities?
    I'm not going to list them..
    What annoys me is I want to give money to charities
    and what I don't want isseeing it sent back to me in the
    form of glossy publications.
    Worst thing that happened to me was sending off for an Info sheet
    paying the fee but them getting bombarded with mail shots!

  2. Oooh, I hate that too - I don't want them to use my money sending me pretty newsletters, I want them to use the money to do the work I am supporting them to do!!
    Thanks for the comment - didn't think to mention that in the blog! :)

  3. I only give to animals; sometimes I can be cruel like that.

  4. At least they don't complain that you don't give them enough :)