No I won’t pay for your holiday, even if I’m giving part of the money to charity
4 May, 2011
The other day, I was prevailed upon to give a tenner to “sponsor” an acquaintance who is undertaking a mountain biking, trekking and rafting trip to Tibet and the Himalayas next August. Now I don’t usually pay for holidays for people who are not members of my immediate family (and not always then either), but this was in a Good Cause as the “proceeds” were going to the Irish charity, Concern.
Ever since I was parted from my hard-earned money for this “Tri-Adventure Challenge”, a niggle of resentment has been afflicting me. Not because I have anything against giving money to charity – in fact, I give rather a lot – but because I am simply browned off at being asked to pay for exciting trips for people to far-flung destinations, with an unspecified (and probably negligible) quantum of the money eventually finding its way into the coffers of the charity itself.
I want all of any donation I might make to go directly to the charity, and not to have most of it spent in flying (with attendant carbon footprint) an army of under-occupied do-gooders to the ends of the earth, where their energies will be dissipated in pointless activities that serve no purpose, and where no doubt many a pleasant evening will be spent relaxing and socialising, all at my expense.
I was musing on this last Saturday when I opened the travel section of the Irish Times and found an article entitled “Charity begins away”. Here I read that “It’s supposed to begin at home but charity can also take you abroad to some of the world’s most exciting places. It’s the ultimate win-win so Sandra O’Connell rounds up some great holidays for worthy causes”.
At least the article doesn’t pretend that the trips are not holidays. Here is a sample of the sort of trips somebody with time on their hands could undertake under the guise of charitable endeavour [my comments added]:
Walk the Great Wall Easily one of the wonders of the world, the 6,400km Great Wall of China stretches from the Gobi Desert to the mountains of Korea. Happily, you’ll only be taking in a tiny bit of it [must leave enough time for sightseeing, after all]……Once you’re off the wall there is a guided tour of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, the Olympic Park and the Silk Market, as well as free time to undertake your own excursions [that’s more like it]. Charity: Irish Cancer Society. Event:Great Wall of China Trek. Date: October 14th to 23rd, 2011. Sponsorship required: €4,500.
Grand Canyon trek Children’s charity Barnardos already has a full quota for its big trip this year [I’m not surprised] but if you fancy giving yourself plenty of fund raising time for next year, check out its Grand Canyon Trek which takes place in June 2012. Fly to Las Vegas [party!], transfer over the Hoover Dam into the Lake Mead National Park for an acclimatising walk. By day three you’ll be spending your first full day on the trails, with an early start [not too early, I hope] into the Hualapai Indian reserve and a trailhead that overlooks the Grand Canyon. From there you begin your descent along remote paths past waterfalls with the Colorado River snaking far below. You continue down the canyon, crossing creeks and waterfalls and pitching your tent at night. Expect to walk around 15km a day [OK…but let’s not overdo it], taking in highlights such as the “wet route” to Beaver Falls, swimming through to a subterranean cavern under the first tier of the waterfall, before jumping 5m into a frothy pool below. Charity: Barnardos. Event:Grand Canyon Trek. Date: June 2nd to 9th, 2012. Sponsorship required: €4,600.
Make for the Cape A much gentler option open to volunteers of all fitness levels [now you’re talking] is a nine-day meander [a good stress-free word, that] through South Africa, helping to raise funds for people with disabilities back home. The walking tour of Cape Town and the surrounding countryside includes treks through the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and the Silvermine Nature Reserve, enjoying views out over both the Atlantic and Indian oceans on the Cape of Good Hope peninsula [mustn’t forget my camera]. Equally unmissable is the panoramic views of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain [wonder what the suckers back home are up to?] , a visit to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach and an exploration of Stellenbosch in the country’s winelands [yes!]. You’ll also get to take a boat over to Robben Island for a guided tour of the former prison Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in [can I skip this bit? – sounds boring], now a Unesco World Heritage site. Charity : Rehab. Event: South African Challenge. Date: November 2011. Sponsorship required: €4,950.
If I’m going to subsidise somebody to take part in a trip or an event, I want the sponsored efforts to have tangible beneficial results in themselves, and not be just a diversion or holiday for the participants. Why not a sponsored clean-up of Dublin parks and canals? A sponsored cook-in for homeless people? A sponsored house clean for sick and elderly people? A sponsored day out for handicapped children?
In the Sunday Times, Daisy Waugh has similar feelings:
…. I’ve made it a rule never to contribute to fundraising efforts where fundraisers are simply finding a moral high ground from which to bore us all about a new personal hobby. So: premenopausal ladies struggling with weight issues, wanting sponsorship to run half-marathons: forget it. Ditto middle-aged fathers demanding money for week-long bike rides in exotic and manly places. Not a chance. In fact, now I think about it, any begging communication at all which uses the words “challenge” or “fun” – or which suffixes their named endeavour with a facetious “athon” – doesn’t even make it to my Maybe One Day pile. No matter what the cause. It goes straight in the bin.
Her article appears under the headline “Nobody’s having fun at my expense”. Join the club, Daisy.