Long life

Why it's better to give money to a beggar than to a charity

The recipient will be genuinely grateful — unlike charities, who spy on and persecute their benefactors

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

No good deed goes unpunished. This is a saying that applies with special poignancy to Olive Cooke, the 92-year-old poppy seller who jumped to her death in the Avon Gorge near Bristol after receiving something like 3,000 begging letters a year from charities. Mrs Cooke was a great believer in charity. She had sold poppies on behalf of the Royal British Legion since 1938, taking up position every November outside the entrance to Bristol Cathedral. She may have disposed of more than 30,000 poppies during her eight decades of selling them there.

She was, said her family, somebody of an ‘incredibly kind, generous and charitable nature’ who held 27 direct debits to charities. The word got about. Here, obviously, was a sucker. Charities started passing her contact details to each other until she was on the mailing lists of 99 organisations that bombarded her with begging letters. This may not have been the main cause of her suicide, but it nevertheless left her feeling ‘overwhelmed’, ‘upset’ and ‘depressed’, her family said.

The ruthlessness of charities, as recently exposed in the media, is really quite shocking. Not only do they persecute good people like Mrs Cooke; they also employ sleuths to inspect people’s wills for charitable bequests and then chase up the relatives of the dead for payment — behaviour condemned by bereavement counsellors as ‘indefensible’. At the same time, as the Times exposed, more than a thousand charity executives are paid six-figure salaries, and 277 of these more even than the Prime Minister, who earns £142,500 a year. It is hardly surprising that, as William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission, said, charities are in danger of losing the public’s trust.


The case of Mrs Cooke is extreme, but her treatment reflects a belief shared by all charities, however respectable, that the best people to pursue for money are those that give it away already. The generous are pursued; the miserly are left in peace. You don’t even have to be very generous to suffer. I have one or two small direct debits to charities, but they regularly write to ask me for more. This has the opposite of the desired effect; it makes me want to cancel the direct debits.

I can see that charities have a problem. There is no very nice way of asking for money, but good manners require that warm expressions of gratitude for a donation should be followed by a substantial period of time during which the giver is permitted to feel good about himself before being targeted for more. It should also be required that telephone fundraisers get to the point immediately rather than invent some other pretext for their call. My old college at university sometimes gets a student, normally a female one, to telephone me at home to tell me what an interesting fellow I must be and how sure she is that I would like to know about life in the college today. Minutes of agonising conversation then follow before she reveals the true purpose of her call.

All this makes one sceptical about charitable giving. How much of it goes on salaries to overpaid executives? How much on further fundraising? How much on advertising, newsletters and public relations? And how much on the cause one would like to support? These are questions that one cannot help asking oneself, even though one will never know the answers.

One is usually advised to be wary of giving money to beggars; better to entrust it to a reputable organisation that will spend it wisely on the people that most need it. But I remain to be convinced. Charities realise that it’s more normal in human nature to want to give to an individual than to an amorphous entity, which is why they advertise with, say, a harrowing photograph of a starving child. The person then feels that it’s that specific child he is helping when he gives the charity money. Safer still to give money directly to the person who will benefit from it, even at the risk of being ripped off. You know the beggar may be a fraud, but you also at least know that he will be genuinely grateful.

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  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    Charity is one of the Seven Deadly Virtues.

  • I had a standing order for payments for forty years to a children’s
    charity. I pulled the plug after having my TV viewing one Christmas
    ruined by a carpet bombing strategy showing starving, miserable children
    squatting in the dirt with flies crawling out of their eyes. I thought,
    ‘where the heck are their parents?’, and ‘If this charity can afford
    this much TV advertising they have too much money and are spending it
    badly. Since then on being accosted by student chuggers begging for the left-wing propaganda machine, OXFAM, I affronted them by saying very firmly that
    I’d rather use twenty pound notes as toilet paper than hand any of it to
    them.

    • Andy O.

      “Where the heck are their parents”?????!!!!!!
      Yes, the stupid parents should just nip down to Waitrose and buy them dinner!

      You moron.

      • Thank you Mr Liberal Sniveler. Now, wipe the tears from your eyes and walk on to your virtue signalling meeting at the Labour Headquarters. Laughed my head off yesterday to hear Andy Burnham whining on about how we MUST take children from the Calais Jungle camp….. WHY? Are they not in France, a developed, safe, liberal nation? Why do we need to go there and sort out their social services problems? Shall we take on all the orphans in Marseilles? Or he children of Drug addicted mothers in the Paris suburbs?

      • Oh yes – looking after the five or six children each woman has in these benighted places is everyone’s business except the people who bred them. Why didn’t I realise that earlier? We should stop concerning ourselves with them. Human beings in some parts of the planet are breeding like rats and vastly over-stretching the food producing potential of their environment. Since Michael Buerks biblical famine broadcast in Ethiopia in the early 1980s, the population of already over-populated Ethiopia has more than doubled. Not satisfied with ending up starving with their original population thirty years ago, they’ve doubled it again. Why am I supposed to be bothered exactly? Now having rendered their own world uninhabitable through war and over population, they set off on foot and turn up in Italy and Greece and buffoons on the left want us to let them in here. They would be better treated as hostile invaders and repelled with gun boats. Mark my words – it WILL come to that. OUR DUTY is to our own land and our own people.

        • Mary Ann

          The best way to cut the birth rate is to educate women and make sure that their children live, then they will have less children, the birth rate in richer countries is dropping to the point where white Western Europeans will be extinct in about 10 generations if we don’t start having more babies.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Educate them in what?

            Feminism?

            These women aren’t guardian contributor professional career women with million quid pension pots.

            They’re some blokes third wife scratching a living in the dust!!!!

          • Bonkim

            educate them in not breeding like rats. That bloke also has a fourth and other concubines.

          • You’re wrong I’m afraid. Look at this link and use the clickable tool to see how population has grown in several North African countries.

            https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=population+of+ethiopia&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=cluvVv6qHsOEUdWZtugM

            Machine guns will be the answer in the end. Nothing less will stop them swarming into our nations and destroying them.

          • Bonkim

            Brass bullets cost money.

          • Bullets aren’t brass; they are copper jacketed lead. Cartridges are brass, but that’s another matter.

          • Bonkim

            Thanks – yes in the old days you cast your own lead for your siz shooter.

          • Bonkim

            The earth will be taken over by the world’s poor soon and end of mankind not that far.

        • Mr B J Mann

          A century ago there were around 5 million starving Ethiopians.

          Now, with all the charitable help:

          There are 100 million starving Ethiopians.

          And then there’s all those millions of children dying of Malaria:

          Malaria was wiped out in the 60s!

          Oh no, just a minute, Malaria was just about to be completely wiped out with DDT in the 60s!

          And then the “liberals” started whinging about it supposedly thinning the shells of song bird eggs!!!

          And now they’re whinging about baybees dying of Malaria?!?!?!!!

      • King Kibbutz

        You’re not getting this at all are you? It’s really very good, and we need more of it now the telly is dead.

        Buck up.

      • Bonkim

        Why have children if you cannot feed them?

    • Mary Ann

      Perhaps their parents are dead.

      • So what would happen here if a child’s parents were dead? Oh yes – someone local would step in and rescue the situation. I am sick of hearing on teh one hand detestable complaints about the bad old colonial days when Britain took over and organised things in these places and now at the same time seeing pleading adverts demanding that I take responsibility for children six thousand miles away. Either Cecil Rhodes was right and these Africans are basically to be taken care of like children, or he was wrong and they can take responsibility themselves. Of course the Labour Party (Burnham) thinks we must take responsibility for children of migrants living in France at the Calais Jungle Camp…. FRANCE???? Why? Is France not a fully developed and advanced nation? Are we responsible for orphans in Marseilles too? Nuts…. Just nuts.

        • Mary Ann

          If you are living hand to mouth and you have children, you put them first. Actually in France they don’t register because they want to come to Britain, they speak English or have relatives here, if they register they then cannot come to Britain, Dublin, all those single young men would actually get higher benefits if they register in France, it’s only families with children who are better off in Britain.

          • JabbaPapa

            all those single young men would actually get higher benefits if they register in France

            Including possibly the benefit of a cheap charter flight back to where they came from.

          • Mary Ann

            I don’t suppose that France and Britain are much different in that respect, although if Britain cut of immigration from Europe we would probably take more people from Africa and other parts of the commonwealth like India and Pakistan. Got to get our migrants from somewhere? good for business, and we need them to pay the taxes to pay our pensions.

          • Andrew Cole

            OR we could stop giving out the benefits to our unskilled many of whom want to work but are ignored because they are tarred with the ‘lazy Brit’ myth.

            There are plenty of Brits that could be doing the jobs we are importing others to do yet our government are happy to continue on with this ‘Lazy Brit’ mantra to make sure that there is a constant feed of migrant labour to keep the wages at NWM when prior to 2004 many of these low skilled jobs were above NWM.

            Each migrant might pay some tax but then we pay out benefits to the Brit that could have been doing that job.

          • Bonkim

            There are lazy-Brits.

          • Andrew Cole

            Yes there are and there are lazy migrants too. Employers and governments are very happy to let the myth tar all unskilled Brits though so that business can have a nice cheap workforce that will work all hours asked. Lazy Brits and out of work Brits are not the same thing.

          • You seem to want to see our country destroyed by over-population. Do you have kids Mary-Anne? If you do, how do you think their lives will be affected by the runaway prices of houses and rents. It already requires twice as much of earnings (adjusted for inflation) to buy or rent a home as it did when I bought my first home in 1975. That is a vast load on their lives in comparison too the easy time I had forty some years ago.

          • Bonkim

            Never ending misery for all for ever.

          • They aren’t coming here. You don’t get to shop around for the best deal Mary Ann, you come to the first safe place and you seek asylum. That is the rule. If you don’t do that and you travel onward you become an economic migrant and have no rights at all in Britain. GOOD. That is how it must be. This up and coming rat hole of a country is already the most over populated in the EU by far of proper countries – leaving out places like Luxumburg and Malta which are basically city states and not nations. The population density of England is 417 per sq km, Germany 220, France 120, Spain about 88 and Sweden, 25. By comparison the USA population density is 33 per sq KM. ENGLAND IS FULL and some of us are prepared to fight to prevent it turning into an Islamic sewer of dystopian high rise cities joined together with patches of scrubby farm land around them.

          • Mr B J Mann

            And they have relatives in Ethiopia, so why not send them there.

            And as for Dublin, apparently all the pregnant “refugees” there come to Britain to give birth!

          • Bonkim

            and we just don’t want them.

      • Bonkim

        In nature offspring dies when their parents are not there to feed them.

    • Bonkim

      Charities like Oxfam help increase world population – failed and failing societies should be allowed to die off – nature is harsh. Overseas aid helps increase populations at locations on earth which are hostile to life.

  • Michael H Kenyon

    This is what happens when you let sharp-elbowed business and managerial types get involved, and it rightly offends our sensibilities. But – and it’s a big but – it may well be that these folks generate more money for the cause than than the good intentions, idealism, and jumble sales that used to define charities. The thing is to have a mechanism to stop managerial types overpaying themselves, and larging the dubious corporatism of the times.

    • Mr B J Mann

      But they always used to let sharp-elbowed business and managerial types get involved.

      And it rightly offends our sensibilities because they used to do it after they retired and were doing it for charity and not city salaries!

  • Jab

    Salvation army is very good and look after many homeless without squandering money on big salaries.I have stopped giving to most other charities and yet I see taxpayers money handed out to high salary paying charities.I think this is a bid problem.

    • Bonkim

      and Charities are supposed to be staffed by volunteers working for nothing. If they have paid staff they cease to be charities.

  • AlfTupperDarlin

    “Why it’s better to give money to a beggar than to a charity. The recipient will be genuinely grateful — unlike charities, who spy on and persecute their benefactors”

    Unfortunately most people are so innumerate that they miss the obvious reason for cutting out the money-grabbing middle man.

    If you give a beggar a tenner then the beggar gets a tenner. If you pay £10 to a charity which supports beggars then £9 (probably more) will go towards paying for the charity’s plush London central office, 6 figure CEO’s salary, all the salaries of the bleeding-heart hangers on charity staff, the chuggers’ cut, etc., etc. and £1 (probably less) will actually go to help a beggar.

    • Mary Ann

      If you check http://www.aliveandgiving.com/home.aspx

      you will find it isn’t nearly as bad as most people believe. The link was provided by the Telegraph so I expect it will at least be honest

    • Bonkim

      You can set the filter fine to make it 1p.

  • Caractacus

    Make sure you choose your beggars carefully. Most of them are Romanians making more than you do.

  • Anthorny

    What a great article. I’ve been doing exactly this for a while now since my faith in charities fully evaporated. I now tend to have a quick chat with the beggar to gauge their authenticity and then if satisfied, hand over the coinage. It’s not a 100% reliable process of course, but I’m definitely “cutting out the middleman”. And in the case of charities, the middleman just keeps or wastes almost all of the money.

    My direct donation approach developed after long ago seeing the same London street chuggers wearing different tabards (for different charities) every few weeks. It occurred to me then if “reputable” charities outsourced their collecting activity, something was obviously wrong. Since then, the exposes about the RSPCA wasting £300,000 in legal fees on the politically motivated attempt at the prosecution of David Cameron’s local hunt, whilst at the same time euthanasing vast numbers of pets in their care has only served to reinforce my views.

    I believe also that the Save the Children CEO enjoys a basic salary of £234k and I’m sure there are even better rewarded Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. I find it perverse that Save the Children can buy expensive TV slots to show us images of dyeing children and ask us for money, whilst covering a cost of £234k plus NI plus pension plus bonus etc to their CEO. And what are all the other Save The Children executives also taking straight from the till?

    I read a piece recently from Sir Stephen Bubb, Head of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. He thinks that the scrutiny of charity finances would be a bad idea. In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, well he would wouldn’t he?

    So it is really no wonder that Sir Stephen Bubb has come out in a cold sweat at the very suggestion of public scrutiny of the charity sectors ill-gotten gains. Especially when much of the funding is from through the overt deception of the generous but gullible.

    And if anyone is in any doubt. One name to recall. Camila Batmanghelidjh.

    • JabbaPapa

      With some extremely rare exceptions, often organised by Church religious having undertaken vows of poverty, organised charities should absolutely be avoided. There has been the odd case of charities not giving ANY of the income to their supposed recipients.

      The best true charity is one which keeps close to home.

    • Bonkim

      Watch out for beggars that make a good living and go home in their Jags.

    • greencoat

      As well as the fat-cat salaries and the money frittered on court cases, some charities have questionable political agendas.
      Christian Aid, for example, and its attitude to Israel.

  • 9sqn

    Problem being often the ‘beggar’ has either drink or drug related problems and is likely to spend any money given on just that. My solution – and it seemed to work rather well recently on a visit to Lincoln, a town with a seemingly preponderance of rough sleepers – is to give them food and water. Especially the water; thirst being far more distressing than mere hunger. One poor waif said she hadn’t had a drink all day and proceeded to wuff down a half litre of Highland Spring quicker than I could say ‘you’re welcome’.

    • JabbaPapa

      Problem being often the ‘beggar’ has either drink or drug related problems and is likely to spend any money given on just that

      Isn’t this **his** problem, rather than yours ?

      Obviously one should avoid giving ANYTHING to a heroin addict (what they need is hospital treatment), and should therefore train oneself how to spot them — and some food and drink will always be helpful, but do you think anyone can barter a sandwich for a bus ticket, some aspirin, or anything else that you might be completely unaware that the person needs ?

      And you know — for some of these down-and-outers, some beers or whatever might be their ONLY source of pleasure in the day.

      But just as importantly, a beggar with money in his pocket gets to decide for himself how best to spend it — it’s one of the few remaining dignities that such a person can have. Your suggestion is to take even that way from him.

      • 9sqn

        That’s an interesting take on my thoughts. However, I think when, due to drug use, the recipient is unable to make a rational choice, providing the sustenance necessary for life is a small price to pay for loss of dignity.

    • Tom Sykes

      So buy him a hot meal as well.

      • 9sqn

        It was a ‘her’. And if you’re so bothered, you buy her a hot meal. I did my bit.

        • Bonkim

          Lucky the Police did not arrest you. Check their age before opening up your purse.

          • 9sqn

            I’ll do a lot of things before I take any advice from you, thanks.

        • Tom Sykes

          bit

          • 9sqn

            Tw*t. You.

          • Tom Sykes

            hissy fit??

    • Andrew Cole

      Can’t walk around Lincoln without getting asked ‘spare any change’. Not just the city centre. There is someone wrapped in blankets at every collection of shops even on the outskirts.

      The moronic thing is that if you enter the high street either from the subway near the traincrossing or from the stonebow you will pass a ‘beggar’ and then within 20 yards you have a line across the pedestrian are of students in tabards asking you to sign up for a direct debit to whatever charity it is today.

      So you have the choice to give direct upon entry to the pedestrian precinct or have the students chasing the sound of coins in your pocket.

      I would say that the beggar having ‘drink or drug problems’ is not like it used to be and may be overplayed. In the eighties/nineties you could smell the acohol, the sweat and see the bloodshot eyes of beggars (and tramps.) These days most of the beggars I see in Lincoln don’t smell of alcohol and seemingly just want a Starbucks.

      • Bonkim

        Pity the Police don’t arrest them and throw them in the workhouse.

        • Andrew Cole

          Or re-open the shelters that Councils didn’t want in their city centres!! Much more important to keep our city centres pretty, regenerate them and keep unsightly people out.

          There is a police directive in Lincoln to move beggars out of the city centre already.

          • Bonkim

            Well probably illegal migrants – so no harm done keeping them out of city centres – best thing if they were rounded up and put in safe camps from where they cannot leave and bother us.

          • Andrew Cole

            Unless they’ve master English accents then no, they aren’t probably illegal migrants.

          • Bonkim

            Local Authorities have a duty to house U.K residents unless they have made themselves intentionally homeless. Only fair that you don’t want vagabonds to sleep rough and become a threat to towns people. If Police clear them, probably taken them to the nearest shelter.

    • Bonkim

      Their freedom.

  • Matt Sharp

    The primary question when making a charitable donation should be ‘how much good will the charity do?’

    A charity that gives nothing to its executives, does no fundraising, but also completely fails to help anyone is clearly useless. Whereas a charity with well-paid executives that was also very cost-effective (in terms of how many lives it improved) is clearly valuable.

    Framing the question in terms of how much gets spent where is missing the point; what matters are how well the charity achieves its end goals.

    Fortunately there are charity evaluators out there such as GiveWell and Giving What We Can which review and recommend charities on the basis of how good they are at achieving good outcomes.

    • Paul Robson

      Well, it might work in fairytale land. In practice the charities that don’t throw money about on bureaucracy and do something compare well with the well paid executives that employ PR people to boast about what they are doing. Kids Company springs immediately to mind.

      • Matt Sharp

        Do you have any data or studies to back up your claim about ‘what happens in practice’?

        Throwing money on bureaucracy might be a waste, but if the bureaucracy is necessary to ensure the program actually works, then it’s not a waste. So rather than measure the size of the bureaucracy, why not measure what actually matters: outcomes?

        Then you can see how much each charity is achieving for each £1000 it receives.

        • Paul Robson

          Really, are you this naive ? It’s a racket. Look at the salaries paid. I recommend David Craig’s book if you want numbers etc. I presume you benefit from these scam merchants in some way ? Bureaucrats always think they are necessary. They aren’t, you need organisers of doers, doers and admin.

          • Larissa Rowe

            Organisations like Giving What We Can support some of the best charities on the ground by sharing their success and evidence, they raise a lot of money to some of the best charities out there that do the most good. At a very conservative estimate for every dollar they spend they raise around $6 for top charities meaning more gets done on the ground.

            If a charity has bureacrats and makes adverts and has no idea if these activities actually help then I agree they do not deserve our money but if they can say yes we went y amount on this advert but we raised 5 times that amount even factoring in the staff they hired then I think they are very much worth supporting as they will be sustainable and able to help more people.

          • Paul Robson

            GWWC would appear to have the same problem viz. it is a very short list looking purely at one specific area. Their evidence pretty much cannot, by definition, identify “the best charities out there that do the most good”

            Indeed, they say “(GWWC) is an international society dedicated to eliminating extreme poverty in the developing world” which is going to skew its assessments, if only in that it only lists charities aimed towards that (as does GiveWell, which probably *isn’t* a coincidence).

            Your last point I would have two caveats with. It depends what the “5 times the amount” is spent on, and it depends on the methods used to do it. I presume chugging works, for example, because charities wouldn’t do it if it didn’t, but I would refuse to give any money under any circumstances to charities that use chuggers.

          • David S

            I looked into making a major donation and thought GWWC might help. Unfortunately their analysis of the charity I was looking at was hopeless simplistic, treating government grants as matched funding to support the argument that each £ of private donations produced multiples of value in end outcomes, whereas in truth it was a government dominated entity with a small amount of private fundraising attached. They are well-meaning but naive (that word again)

          • Matt Sharp

            Could you be more specific about your criticism of Giving What We Can? I don’t really see anything wrong with the argument that matched funding produces multiple of value in outcomes *if* the funding wouldn’t go to a given charity without the matching.

          • David S

            Matched funding is fine, but this wasn’t it. The charity they recommended most highly at the time was the Schistosomiasis Initiative, which is a laudable project run out of UCL. The government funds were not matched funding but simply grants, so it was wrong to say that for every x in private donations 19x would come from the government. If you or I gave £1000 it would not make any difference at all to the amount coming in from government, nor would our donation have any impact on the overall outcome.
            By contrast we gave to Hope and Homes for Children and Street Child under matched funding schemes and our donations were genuinely leveraged. That is your “if” scenario.

          • Matt Sharp

            I presume you’re too thick to engage in reasoned argument without hurling insults?

            I’m not suggesting all or most bureaucrats are necessary, merely that it is outcomes that matter most. *If* the bureaucrats aren’t necessary to the charity’s performance, then this will be reflected in worse cost-effectiveness. But there are plenty of other factors that also come into cost-effectiveness, and by focusing solely on salaries and bureaucracy you may be failing to take into account much bigger factors that are relevant to a charity’s overall impact.

            Besides, if donors reward charities merely for having less ‘bureaucracy’ this simply creates an incentive for charities to reclassify a bureaucratic or administrative job, even if the role is exactly the same.

          • Paul Robson

            Naive isn’t an insult. It’s a description. If you really think a charity bureaucracy doesn’t behave like every other one, you are naive. It doesn’t mean that all bureaucracy is unnecessary, just a great deal of it. (Thick is an insult)

            Likewise, if you think charities don’t reclassify activities as direct action conveniently, then yes, naive is perfectly reasonable.

            I wouldn’t disagree outcomes are important. Outcomes, like anything else are ‘manipulable’ – as a (possibly extreme but current) example, look at how Kids Company classified “numbers they helped”.

            I would agree with looking at GiveWell et al but I wouldn’t rely on them. I’m not particularly impressed by either of them. GiveWell appears to largely focus on the developing world and the list of assessed charities is a bit short.

            I don’t see either of them as particularly useful in dealing with the question of ‘should I give to charity x or not’.

            I would recommend (personally) people investigate for themselves before making any donations at all, but I would not give to anything advertising on the television and especially not any charity using chuggers or similar tactics.

          • Matt Sharp

            I agree with most of your points here; GiveWell are focused on identifying the most high-impact charities overall. These tend to be focused on the developing world simply because it’s easier for a given amount of money to achieve more in developing countries. So there’s nothing really on UK-focused charities (there’s some early work on US-based charities).

            Given the huge number of charities overall (in the UK alone there’s something like 170,000 registered charities, never mind the rest of the world), a thorough review of all charities simply isn’t going to happen. But if you share GiveWell’s aim of only supporting the best charities overall, you don’t need to see a thorough review of all charities: you can simply ask if *theoretically* the charity is working on a problem that could plausibly be the most cost-effective; if they couldn’t even theoretically be having the biggest impact, then there’s no need to even look at their actual work. That actually rules out a huge number of charities.

            You’re right that outcomes can be manipulated, which is why it’s probably better to rely on charity evaluators rather than trying to make a judgement for yourself based on a charity’s website. GiveWell take into account previous scientific evidence of a charity’s particular work (e.g. they recommend the Against Malaria Foundation in large part because there’s really strong evidence as to the effectiveness of anti-mosquito nets, and they’re cheap to buy, meaning overall they’re highly cost-effective).

            I strongly agree about not giving to a charity simply based on advertising or chuggers.

          • Paul Robson

            If people want to give money to developing countries I see no real problem with GiveWell beyond the large number of charities it hasn’t yet assessed. Whether these are the best charities overall is dependent on your definition of “best” ; people often are interested in charities that directly relate to them or their family. In the end the two websites have the same sort of problems you identified generally ; there are too many charities to accurately monitor, and its very difficult to do reliably, though this approach is certainly better than looking at websites. In the end, I think I would prefer local charities and charities whom people I know are involved in

      • Bonkim

        Yes – organizational theory teaches you that organizations exist to preserve their existence – all else is secondary.

    • Bonkim

      Charities discover new causes. If local volunteers sorted out local problems there will be no need for organized Charities.

  • Freddythreepwood

    Give it to the Sally Ann.

  • Paul Robson

    They don’t just chase up bequests. They ask for interest on the money if it is delayed for some reason (as wills sometimes are), so my accountant informs me.

    The amount varies. My mother “works” for a charity which provides support for people with breast cancer. The “works” is because the don’t employ anyone, at all. They may pay travel expenses (mum probably wouldn’t take them), I don’t know. I asked about things like accountancy for making sure the books are legit, but apparently that’s all volunteers as well.

    Most of the large charities are pointless ; they switch from actually doing stuff to “campaigning” – a classic example is Scope (formerly Spastics society) which used to do things like run respite care and holidays and then decided to stop most of the actually useful stuff in favour of campaigning and raising awareness ; euphemisms for spending more money on PR, management and fundraising.

    Charities will give stats about how much goes to front line work, but this is usually, shall we say, manipulated ?

    • Ade

      The National Trust is a charity, but most of its work is done by volunteers… especially galling when Dame Helen Ghosh gets £160,000 a year, and they manage to burn down historic houses, after sticking cafes and gift shops into them.

      • Gilbert White

        Do gooders need to attain Nirvana and financial peace of mind.

  • Ingmar Blessing

    Never donate, always invest. Because when an investment turns sour, you can move out the rest of you investment, when a donation turns sour, you can’t move it out. Keeping your interest is dominant, especially since charity is not a good cause anymore but an industry.

    When people on the street try to talk you into a subscription to “save the dolphins” or whatever (currently it’s “migrants”) by showing you sad pictures, they don’t care about it. It’s just a job for them and the more donors they get to pay, the higher their bonus is.

    Charities turned into just another way to rob people based on a mutual agreement. In the case of the old lady – who actually did what she saw as the right thing to do – it’s a tragedy.

  • Dagenhamboy

    I give to the Disasters Committee but that’s it now. With one notable exception, after every donation I’ve been plagued by telephone calls and junk mail for ages afterwards. The exception? The Gurkha Appeal. A polite reminder after one year and that’s it. Proper gentlemen, unlike the other rabidly aggressive charities.

  • Mary Ann

    My mother left two bequests, one to the Civil service benevolent fund and one to the PDSA within a couple of weeks of her death I had a letter of condolence from the CSBF and a letter chasing up their money from the PDSA, needless to say I shall never give them anything myself, which is a shame because it is a cause I actually believe in.

  • Andrew Cole

    Students paid by charities to knock on my door daily get short shrift. Charities that pay thousands to dominate advert slots inbetween the pay day loan adverts get ignored. The weekly charity drives that the school use my children to harrang me get ignored.

    Why? Because charity used to be charity whereas these days new charities are begun daily and are just a mass money making scheme where we do not know how much actually goes to the cause or even if it gets there.

    I do give to local charities when they have fundraisers but my trust in the big business charities with uber pay CEOs disappeared a long time ago.

  • Arclight101

    Er, but most of the beggars around our way are run by criminal gangs. Give to the beggars and you’e giving to the local branch of the Roma Mob. Not such a good idea after all.

    • Flintshire Ian

      My view on street beggars changed when I saw a beggar and accessory dog being dropped off on the Euston Road by a great big Mercedes. Either they got lucky hitching a lift into town and only had a short walk to their pitch on Southampton Row or things were not quite as they were meant to seem

      • JabbaPapa

        Not every beggar is a professional, and with some experience you can tell the difference even without seeing such a car.

  • Bonkim

    I don’t give to organized charities but keep the free envelopes and pens.

  • Harryagain

    I don’t give to either. Or the sc um selling “Big Issue”.

  • Harryagain

    Charities are just a career for well paid executives.

  • Shorne

    This is why I only donate to food banks, and before the usual suspects start about ‘freeloaders’ etc. People can only get enough food for three days on three occasions if a professional such as a doctor, health visitor, school, social worker or Police Officer issue them with a foodbank voucher.
    Besides there’s also Matthew 25:35-46.

  • ElliotStephens90

    I don’t give to cadgers (i.e the same 8 people I come across who needs change for the bus) but I do give change to people I see who have been sleeping rough and are homeless, certainly over charities.

    I saw some lady in the a city centre with a Zorro eye-mask thing and a bucket, and people were giving her money! The bucket didn’t have a label or anything! She was raking it in!

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