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'Charity'

Last week I was doing the 'I'm too busy to make eye contact' walk through our local shopping centre, desperately trying to avoid the smarmy sales-team that were sprayed across the walkway.

This time it was The Red Cross. I overheard one particularly slimy twit saying to a lady (I'd guess was in her early 60s) "so I'll just put you down for 30 pence a day".

She replied that she wasn't sure and started to walk away - which is when the hand went onto her shoulder, gently ushering her back into the badgering. I stopped to make sure she finally got away unscathed but it was horrible to see the hard sell being used on, what the sales bully must have thought was a soft target.

I briefly looked into the Red Cross. Forgive any errors as this was a quick Google search, but the CEO, Sir Nicholas Young is reported to take a salary of £125,000. Although not the highest for someone in this kind of role, it still seems like a lot to be taking from a 'charity'. Then I had a quick look at the Senior Management Team - there appears to be 12 other people. Then we could assume there would be other levels of management, administration, sales teams etc., so we can start to see how much money given to 'charity' will be going straight into pockets, before we even consider expenses.

I started thinking about Band Aid, Live Aid, Comic Relief etc., and wondered how much of this money is siphoned off in expenses and wages before reaching the people we thought it was going to.

I was under the impression that Live Aid alone raised about £30,ooo,ooo, and that was back in 1985. Since then we've raised similar totals annually with various 'Comic Relief' style events. If I lived somewhere in africa, and had an annual income like that, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be many people around me that were hungry or short on essential medicines. Add on what other countries must be sending, plus government aid - which we are assured is billions, and it's difficult to think there would still be a problem.

Another issue I have is with 'Charity Skydives' and 'Charity Holidays'. Years ago I contacted a company about going skydiving. To do a single jump was going to cost £250 but they told me there was a way to do it for nothing. Just say you're doing it for charity, raise £500 and we put half towards your jump and half to our charity.

So for every £1 my friends and family give me for charity, 50 pence is paying for me to do something I was planning on paying for anyway. The charitable company operating the skydiving experience are charging full price - I wonder if they started with normal skydiving, then added the charity bit to drum up more business when they hit a quiet patch?

Then the 50% of what was raised goes on to a charity - where it's more than likely that 50% of that or more will probably go on wages and expenses.

The one I'm seeing lots of these days is the 'holiday of a lifetime for charity' thing. Raise £2,000 and we'll take you on a trek through the Himalayas. It's great because your friends, colleagues, family and any company you can exploit will pay for everything - even the special clothes and gear you always wanted to buy anyway!

The people who've asked me in the past have always been the kind of people who enjoy doing those kinds of thing - they're literally asking us to pay for their holiday in the vague promise that somewhere along the line a charity will get a little bit. The companies themselves must be laughing their socks off. Once they were struggling holiday companies, trying to find adventurous customers with enough money to go on these types of expeditions - and now they have queues of people going for nothing.

I'm well aware that the percentages of money raised that do get to the people that need it is very important. I just can't get my head around the idea of being paid to do charity work, and in some cases, incredibly well paid.

Charity work I've done and still do, costs me greatly in both money and time. But that's why we call it charity. How can you possibly walk away with a pocket full of money and think you've done something good?

I understand that we need to pay people in some instances, but to receive in excess of £30k a year from donated money is surely immoral?


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