My total personal spending in 2011 was £6’981.51. I made the following charitable contributions:
- Partners in Health $2’760 USD, £1’763
- Friendly Water for the World $1’420 USD, £892
- El Paso de la Danta, Costa Rica, $200 USD, £128.13
- Amnesty International, £240
- Water Aid, £240
- Movember South Africa, 13’000 ZAR matched 1:1, £2’060.36
- Movember UK, £100
- Opportunity International UK, £620 matched 1:1, £1’240
- Help for Heroes £89.46 matched 1:1, £178.92
- Macmillan Cancer Support £59.37 matched 1:1, £118.74
- Spina Bifida £10
- Total £6’971.15
Of that total, £5’172.14 was either money due to me or my own personal cash, £1’799.01 was donations by others in order to match my donations.
When I made the pledge I was about to get £10k of investment. I was in the UK for the first time in 3 years and I was finding it very hard to reconcile the wealth, excess and waste of the first world with the developing world where I had been living. I was about to be flush, was trying to make sense of the world around me, and the pledge seemed like a sensible way to do that.
Then reality set in. The investment never came, I pissed about for a good six months before generating any income. It was a tough year. I was feeling serious financial pressure from the pledge. In November an opportunity arose. Mark Shuttleworth was offering to match Movember donations. The year was drawing to a close, I was well behind with my donations, and here was a chance to half the cost of donating.
I gave over £1’000 on 24 November. Not because I thought Movember was a great charity to support, but because I was feeling the serious financial strain of giving half my money to charity. I was barely generating enough cash flow to stay afloat, and at the same time facing a huge charity bill. I caved and took a soft option.
That sparked a lot of thinking about matched donations. Is it reasonable to count the whole amount towards my giving total? After reconciling it back and forth, yes, I think it is. To be clearer then, my commitment is not so much to give to charity, but to generate charitable contributions. I was directly responsible for generating those donations, even if they weren’t with my own money. If money were no object, I’d ignore the matched donations just because I could, but I think it’s “fair” (whatever that means) to count them.
Giving to Movember was still a cop out. I gave to ease the financial pressure, not because I wanted to support the cause. I’m trying to learn from the experience.
People’s responses have been interesting. The negative response far outnumber the positive. Stop and think about that for a second. Somebody says they’re going to give money away, and people criticise, condemn, and complain. Sad.
From here on, if you have something constructive to say, please do share it. If you want to bitch, whine or moan, keep it to yourself, I’m not interested. You all know who you are.
I aimed to split my giving into 3 parts. One part give a man a fish, one part teach a man to fish, one part part first world philosophical nonsense I think is important. The first two thirds were to focus on the world’s poorest people, those who genuinely are in need. I reckon 39% of my chosen organisations were in the third category. That number was mostly skewed by my donation to Movember. It soaked up all of the third part and more.
I hope to keep better within my aims in future giving.
While writing this post, for the first time, I’m considering that I might not continue the pledge fully in 2012. It was a demanding commitment last year. I simple assumed I’d continue on the same basis, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll find a different way. I’m going to take a week or two to think about it and then make a decision.
I believe that people dying through lack of food is simply unacceptable and we each have an obligation to take action. Over the next few weeks I’ll consider how I want to honour that responsibility in 2012.
Opportunity International UK
From my research, Opportunity UK International is an organisation worth of support. For any UK citizens reading this, the government is matching all donations to the Opportunity 2011 Christmas Appeal until 21 February 2012. If you’re considering a charitable donation, I recommend supporting their work. Your donation will go twice as far if you support this campaign now. You can read more and donate online here. Think about it.
Happy new year. Do something worthwhile in 2012.