Erikka Askeland: Days of wine prove rosy for charities
DAMN, but if I haven’t done it again. Despite the worst recession in a century and a personal disinclination to being a pest with an annoyance rating comparable to a hungry hoard of midges, I’ve signed up to raise money for charity.
But someone has got to do it. If you think it important to have things like hospices for the terminally-ill, support for carers and sick children above and beyond the bare minimum, or even a place for retired donkeys, then there is a need to part folk from the cash they might have otherwise spent on alcohol.
We all know that while charity begins at home, it is actually a big business. How else do you explain the grating cheerfulness of the gauntlet of “charity muggers”, aka “chuggers”, on Princes Street of a Saturday afternoon? Clearly, they are in it for the love of neglected animals, third world drinking water and the minimum wage.
It sometimes surprises me that people are so shocked that charities have costs to pay. But the fact is a well-run, professional organisation can raise more for causes than some a kind old dear rattling a tin. Albeit it is worth checking out if the fund-raiser wrapped head to toe in Prada is someone well off “doing their bit”, or taking the bulk of the intake as compensation.
If you think about it, charitable giving is probably just a little bit younger than engaging a prostitute in terms of things to do with your money.
But when it comes to the institutionalised collection of cash, it seems to have been started by the Jews, who passed it on to the Christians as a great wheeze to keep the Church up and running. Check out those cathedrals – that tithing went a long way.
A rule of thumb established in the Old Testament is that folk should cough up a tenth of their worldly goods to render unto God what is God’s. Because while the Deity may be all-knowing and all-seeing, He’s short a few bob and could use a little something to get by until payday.
Just ask anyone what the word to “decimate” means. You might get some yarn about the barbarous practices of Roman legionnaires, who would draw lots to see which one of the ten unfortunates would be pummelled to death as a punishment. And while this did happen, the word itself did not start off to mean what it does now, “destruction on a vast scale”. Instead, it meant “one in ten” and comes from the same root word as “tithe”.
But in the absence of divine demand for cash, it is getting harder for charities to keep going these days. In a climate where people are feeling fearful and a bit skint, the likelihood that they will put their hands in their pockets has reduced proportionately. According to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, charities saw a sharp drop in income in 2011.
The truth is that now people expect to get something for their charity donation, be it a slap-up dinner, a discount on a manicure or the new wing named after them.
Me, I’m in it for the Prosecco.
It all started five years ago, when I got roped into a mad project to raise a colossal amount of money for breast cancer. The project, known as Boobybirds (yes, it was meant to be lighthearted), culminated in jumping out of a plane 10,000ft above St Andrews. Compared with extracting the money, that was the easy bit. I managed to raise £10,000, but collectively our group of 20 tenacious women raised £400,000.
So when my friend Clare Logie this year embarked on a plan to recruit 100 willing Scottish women to raise £1,000 each for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, I rashly signed up. That and she was plying me with bubbly beverage. It seemed churlish to refuse.
So here I go again. But the fact is, the challenge five years ago was good fun – even if it was a bit arduous and tiresome. I felt the pain the chugger must feel as I held out my specially decorated bucket – eyes bright and hopeful, but often shunned.
But the excruciating nature of begging for cash – even if it is for the best of causes – bonded the fundraisers of five years ago together in a way that was gratifying and special.
So I expect it will be again this time around.
And we might contribute something that will help to beat a terrible affliction. Plus, there’s bound to be more wine.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east