Charity Fatigue

Do you ever just get sick of hearing about it? All the need in the world? The poverty, the incurable diseases, the ill-treatment of animals, the sadness?

Bad news has that impact. Just like the oceans waves wear down the rocks on the shore over time, bad news can wear us down to the point where we just don’t seem to have the capacity to deal with it any more – so we shut it out.

This is what some would call charity fatigue. Which is a little deceptive because the fatigue is not about the charities themselves, but the major issues these charities fight against. It’s more like, bad news fatigue. If we shut it all out and don’t face the bad news, then we can miss out on being involved in some great things that are happening in our world. The shadow proves the sunshine (according to Switchfoot)

How do we fight against charity, I mean bad news fatigue?

  1. Look for the good things that are happening all around us. There is always something good happening if we look hard enough.
  2. Recognise that you cannot save the world, but God calls you to play your part – this is His gift to us
  3. Find what you are passionate about – invest yourself whole-heartedly into that.
  4. Trust that God is at work, even when you are not. He will find others to invest themselves whole-heartedly into the areas that you are not passionate about.

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be when you grow up? Remember that question? I feel like it was a constant companion when I was little. This question of future possibilities. It was usually answered with ‘a policeman’, or ‘an astronaut’ or ‘a fire engine’. You know, the standard things kids want to be.

I don’t ever remember being asked, what do you want to do when you grow up? It was always what do you want to be? It’s a little thing, but it speaks volumes about how our thinking changes as we grow.

‘Be’ elicits thoughts of a calling, of becoming something and creating something.

‘Do’ is just about doing things and actions.

I believe that we all have a desire to be something, to fulfil our calling, the reason why we are here on this planet. More often than not, I have discovered that peoples calling is about other people. Caring for them, helping them, finding fulfilment in watching others grow and develop and reach their full potential.

There is no doubt that we ‘do’ things in the process, but the doing serves the calling, not the other way around.

So what do you want to be when you grow up? There is something within each and every one of us which cries out to help other people – but whether we listen to that is up to us.

Get the Kids

I don’t know if it happens at a specific time in life, or if it becomes a consistent interruption in thinking, but the desire to leave a lasting impact on our world is a strong motivation for many people. Some would call it a legacy.

Legacy is a heavy word with connotations of a long term, far off benefit for some unknown people. But in reality it doesn’t have to be like that.

We can all leave a legacy starting right now, through two easy steps.

Firstly, we can give money generously to causes that we care about. Our donations have long lasting impacts and will benefit our world from the moment we give.

Secondly, we can include our kids in the process of giving and generosity. We can start by having conversations with them about the organisations we support, show them the stories of lives being changed because of our giving, and invite them to participate through giving some of their pocket money, or birthday money and letting them suggest some organisations that we can give to.

These simple actions and conversations with our children will not only impact our world, but also our family for generations to come. Creating a culture of generosity with our kids will bring about gratitude and positivity within the family unit.

3 Keys to Happiness

No matter who you are or where you live, every person has the same needs in life. Regardless of if you are living in the slums of Delhi in India, in rural Indonesia or a capital city in Australia, there are three keys, which are essentials of happiness.

Firstly, we require something to do. A job for us to put our hands to and to keep busy with – in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes Solomon says that it is good for us to find satisfaction in what we do, the vocation that we dedicate our lives to.

Secondly, we need something to love – a family, a group of friends, a community to be part of. This is what we call social capital – which is a measurement of cultural and social networks we have access to, that are built on trust, cooperation and connection. Being well connected to a community has been proven to reduce the probability of being poor – both financially and emotionally.

Thirdly, we desire something to hope for – be it a better future for us and our family, or a hope in a loving God.

This third one is incredibly significant. There is something about our journey in hope which is intrinsically connected to our happiness. If we have something to hope for, then we have access to joy.

Poverty of the Non-Poor

One of the greatest issues in our world, is the amount people living in extreme poverty.

One of the other great issues of our time is the impact of extreme wealth. They are two sides of the same coin.

People often talk about the great needs of the poor, but poverty has more than one definition.

There is such a thing as too much creating poverty. We call it the poverty of the non-poor.

This kind of poverty, where there is excess, creates greed, corruption, health issues from too much food, and slavery to the idea of a bigger and better house, a newer car, a faster boat.

Somewhere in the middle of nothing and excess there is a balance where we are neither a slave to survival nor a slave to possessions. The wisdom of Proverbs chapter 30 offers a prayer which says “Give me neither poverty nor riches, Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

Overcoming poverty of the non-poor requires generosity; learning to master the excess and become skilled at giving money away.

Finding Purpose

What gets you up in the morning?

The excitement of a new day filled with possibilities, the sound of children waking up and destroying things, or the desire for caffeine? Perhaps all of the above.

We all have at least one motivating factor that keeps us going day in and day out – and the most difficult time in life comes when we lose that connection with what motivates us. Which brings about a sense of hopelessness and can make everything we do seem mundane.

The key that I have discovered is to connect with a purpose that is bigger than just me. Something greater which reaches beyond what I am capable of and impacts the world positively.

I recently came across a guy who was working for a corporation for 25 years. Not long ago this business partnered with a group who were freeing slaves in Cambodia – now they are putting money in to making the world a better place, providing hope for people, and at the same time creating a purpose that is bigger than themselves.

The employee said,

“…for 25 years I never told anyone where I worked, now I will tell everyone, I am so proud of what we do.”

Finding purpose can take the mundane and transform it into a world changing event.

What is your purpose? What do you connect with that reaches beyond what you can do by yourself?

How Much Does That Cost?

How much do you spend on administration?

You know the question, you have possibly asked it before. How much of a donation to a charity gets spent on the programs and how much gets spent on staff and other back end costs. It’s a question I hear frequently about the organisation I work for and for every other not for profit in existence. It’s an important question because we need to be open about this, but it can’t be the only question we ask.

A colleague of mine, many years ago would ask people if they were needing life saving surgery would the most important question to the surgeon be about how much they charged or would it be about their success rate? Of course the response was that the success rate was the main thing people are interested in.

There are many organisations that people donate to that are quite literally saving lives around the world and how often do we ask about the success rate they have?

There needs to be a balance between the two, naturally, but the success rate should be just as, if not more important, than the administration rate.

Effectiveness in the work a not for profit does is not just about keeping costs low, it’s about having the greatest positive impact on our world.

Courage

If it was easy anyone could do it. If it was easy, it would already be done wouldn’t it?

Certain things in life are difficult, usually because the problems that we face day to day are not easily fixed and are multifaceted. Be they relational, financial, spiritual, emotional, life is a complex combination of joys and difficulties. Stuff is tough. That’s okay.

This is just as true when it comes to poverty. It is a complicated, multifaceted issue, which is also man made. We have created this construct which puts many people into a place where they don’t have enough to survive.

Whilst we have made significant headway in the fight against poverty over the last 40 years, there is still a way to go until we have overcome it. And I have to admit, there are times when I get so frustrated at the sight of many people, mothers, fathers, children, still trying to survive. But just because it is difficult to overcome, doesn’t mean that we should avoid it. And it certainly doesn’t mean we should stop fighting. Because the people that we are fighting for are worth it. So we continue to take one step at a time.

Like the American author Mary Anne Radmacher says:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.

Why Do You Keep Asking?

If you have ever given to a charity before, you will know that once you give they will ask you to give again. Sometimes it can become overwhelming as they seem to be like a dog with a bone, asking and asking and asking. Add to that, if you give to more than one charity then it gets multiplied to numerous asks. You can feel as if you are at the mercy of interrupting phone calls, excessive emails and piles of mail at your door step.

Everyone wants charities to spend their money wisely so that as much money as possible can go to the projects they run, and believe it or not, when they are asking you for money again, that is the wisest use of their finances.

It comes down to basic marketing. It is commonly known that if you ask someone who has never been a customer of a particular business before, to become a customer there is a 5-20% chance that they will. If you ask someone who is already a customer to become a repeat customer, there is a 60-70% chance that they will.

It’s the same with Charities. It is much more likely for someone to give to a charity if they have supported them before and much less likely for someone to give to a charity if they have never supported them before. Essentially, it is smarter and financially wise for charities to spend time and money engaging with existing supporters.

In saying that, you are in control of what you receive from them – if you don’t want them to send you mail, emails, or to phone, tell them that. It saves you and the charity time and money, which is an extra donation to them.

New

Once you stop learning, you start dying, according to Albert Einstein. Others would suggest that if you stop learning, you stop growing, or leading or teaching, or any number of things. Suffice to say, many people would consider that learning something new daily is as important as breathing. It is a natural part of life, to be curious and ask questions.

One thing that I have discovered is that the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know. Every time I finished a level of study, be it a University degree or a short course in something I always ended up with more questions than answers. The process would open up my eyes to more of what I didn’t know about. It’s one of life’s great contradictions, the more you learn the more you learn about how much you don’t know – but it doesn’t mean we stop.

For me, learning creates understanding and it is one of the best tools we have in the fight against poverty.

Once a mother in India, for example, learns that she has options, the ability to choose for herself what kind of business she can run or how many children to have, that she has the right to have an opinion or to learn a new skill, this initiates a social change and creates opportunity for her and her family to flourish. It changes her mindset and creates a whole new realm of what is possible.

It’s the ability to understand something today that you didn’t know existed yesterday which creates a place where people can begin to imagine what was previously unimaginable. That is the power of learning something new.