Stop making charity about vanity

March 1, 2019

 

Charity is a good thing. The causes are noble, the fundraising totals are tremendous, and the feeling is satisfying. I am happy to acknowledge that here, at UKC, we have a strong charitable streak. Movember is consistently successful, there is a charity ball practically every other week, and it’s refreshing. There is, however, a glaring issue that people are either oblivious to or not willing to talk about.

 

A male student committed suicide in the middle of November, at the zenith of arguably the most publicised campaign on campus. Movember was set up to help raise awareness of and tackle men’s health issues, including mental health. And yet this did not seem to make much difference in the immediate short term.

People involved in fundraising have a responsibility, and they need to look at how they approach. Most charity fundraising efforts on social media and around campus are very egocentric – almost without fail, every time the focus is on the person’s supposed altruism and the success of their society’s efforts and totals compared to other teams.

 

This obsession with the self, with making one seem so selfless and considerate and generous, dilutes the impact of charity campaigns. Few people actually elaborate on the cause they are working towards. None of the posts in November spoke about what Movember is or included any helplines or details of charitable organisations. The other day someone said, ‘we’re raising money, why do we need to get leaflets from the charity as well?’ Well, the money is useless if people don’t know what their money is for. It’s like paying to buy a book for the sake of saying you own the book.

 

 

Societies, clubs, individuals, please keep on pushing to raise such high amounts of money. Movember’s recent success was astounding. What needs to change, however, is the focus on the cause at hand. It takes nothing to include a phone number or a website in your post, or even talk about what the cause is. Charities are more than willing to provide information leaflets to hand out at an event; a small consideration, and yet it will leave people with no doubt as to what to do if they are affected by the cause in any way. Talk about the charity at events – a short speech during a Karaoke night or making the cause explicit on any event page. And please (this cannot be overstated) stop turning charity campaigns into vanity projects centred around who can be the best.

 

As a member of both Kent FC and RaG, I respect clubs and societies. They raise incredible amounts, without which our impact would be much less. This is not blaming those who post, or attacking the good intentions behind publicising a fundraising initiative online. Social media is an effective tool, especially for catalysing a campaign. However, clubs, societies, and individuals all have a responsibility once they take part in charity work. You need to change your approach. You need to highlight the cause, and what help is available. If you are simply talking about how people can help, but not how they can be helped, it diminishes the cause in a way. This is something which needs to be addressed if we want to make a difference.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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