Have you been following the news about the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand? Have you donated? The Red Cross are running various donation sites - I used the British one to ensure they could claim tax relief on my donation and thus increase its value by 20%.
I was thinking about the earthquake on my drive home from Site yesterday, wondering what I could do from 15,000 miles away. Australians tend to think of New Zealand as our little brother; they were part of the federation talks in the 1890's until New South Wales pissed them off. You didn't need a passport to travel between the two countries until the 1970's, when the Australian government imposed that requirement. And about a third of all Kiwis live in Australia.
Anyway, I was wondering what I could do. As a knitter, my first instinct said "Knit something to donate", but I'm so far away that donating knitted goods is impractical. So I settled on donating cash.
Then I saw this, on the back of a toilet door in the motorway services at South Mimms:
And it made my blood boil. So much so, that I took a photo.
I have nothing against Red Nose Day, the biennial fundraising event run by Comic Relief. I'm sure they're grateful for the free publicity. However, what made me angry is the implication that they'll get the £1.50 or £4 if I buy those products from the services shop. They'll be lucky if they get 10 or 20 pence. How many people fall for this? Sure, if you were going to buy an overly expensive box of Maltesers from the shop anyway, then buying the packet that ensures a donation to charity might be a nice gesture. But were you going to buy two before you saw the promotion? And at a price where you could get four or five packets from the supermarket?
Surely it's better to donate money directly to the charity involved and cut out the middle man? In the case of the Maltesers, if I really wanted a snack, I could have bought something healthy from the Waitrose next door and donated my change to Red Nose Day and still given more than they'd receive from the promotion.
This happens at Christmas, too, with all of those "charity Christmas cards", when the charity named is lucky to get a couple of pennies from an expensive packet of cards.
We all have limited funds. If you want to donate money to charity, give it to them directly. That way, they'll get the most benefit.