The topic of charity has become a surprisingly controversial issue over the years. Where once it was considered inherently good to give money to a cause, the concept of charity has now become loaded with caveats and provisos. Charitable donations now are something of a moral minefield, with people feeling that they have to do extensive research before writing the cheque or making the bank transfer. In some respects this is perfectly understandable. With just about any initiative formed on good intentions, there are loopholes through which those good intentions can be abused. Some people have taken this as a basis on which to decry all charity, which is perhaps the saddest thing of all.
It is easy to become cynical when you see the inherently decent concept of charity being abused. But it should be avoided – all too many people think now that by giving money to help a cause you are inevitably giving money to the lazy or the immoral. Some people have just been cursed with bad luck. Are we to consider that the homeless, the starving and even the long-term ill are malingerers whose only real problem is that they can’t pull themselves together, put on their best suit and go out and find a job? It would be a very regrettable situation if this mindset were to win out. Sure, it is worth putting a bit of thought into which charity you help out – but using the “bad” ones as a reason to doubt all charities is something to avoid.
There is another way that you can help out a charitable cause without needing to worry about handing money directly to a faceless corporation who will put it in the bank and “forget” to hand it over, or that it will end up being swallowed by administrative costs. You can refrain from donating money, or donate a smaller amount but add to it with your time.
Time and labour are often the areas where most charities find their biggest challenges. “No-one wants to give their time for free” is a common complaint. If however you are looking for a worthwhile way to use your time, charitable work can be a very rewarding way to achieve this. It may just be packaging up donations of clothes and food for delivery to needy causes. It may be taking boxes in your car to drive to a refuge for people who have been beset by the problems of a broken home, violence or any other difficulty. But by doing this you also get to see that your work and your time are not wasted.
Cynicism is natural, if not desirable. Skepticism is, to some extent, to be encouraged – it is what allows us to distinguish good causes from bad ones. But doing work for charity can allow you to see just what good work some charities are still doing – and at the same time learn a little bit about yourself as a person. It also allows you the chance to meet some very interesting, very driven people. It’s clear how charity helps the needy, but it can help anyone who gives it a chance.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Simplepersonaldevelopment.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Entrepreneur Journey site. This article originally published on the above website on July 3, 2009.
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