Sunday, June 26, 2011


The Y of charity

Interesting point raised by Mr Bailey recently, the point being that of fundraising. We were watching the arse end of the 'Great' Manchester Run on the BBC which was taking place in the Great British Weather, making it a little difficult to distinguish from its successor, the Great Salford Swim. We were hungover. At least, I was.

Why, Bailey asked, do people chuck money at people who are running? So-and-so is running such-and-such for blah-de-blah. They're running because they want to. I don't understand it.

Steady, I said, reminding him that I have earned a few pennies for worthy causes myself via runs of various distances. I observed that a bit of vicarious guilt about orphans in Africa is probably quite a useful motivational tool when you're at the 20-mile mark in a marathon and you're about ready to pack it in.

The Bailster graciously conceded the validity of this, but pointed out the myth of self-sacrifice involved in the fundraising campaign: I'm running the London Marathon for Oxfam, I'm climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Unicef - yes, these are challenging activities, but the people want to do them. Unicef et al are incidental.

I agreed with these examples although I know that in a lot of cases people are doing these events for smaller charities in which they have a genuine interest. Heaven forbid, should the unspeakable happen to either of my cats, I wouldn't feel like a hypocrite for running from John O'Groats to Land's End in a Feline Alzheimer's Foundation vest.

However, Bailey and I are quite active people and enjoy taking on new challenges. I, for example, am still learning how to eat soup the approved way (to raise money for endangered Jaguars, since you ask). I asked the obvious question: what could the likes of us attempt as a fundraiser that would be a challenge but genuinely self-sacrificing and something we really wouldn't want to do?

Bailey thought about this while the Great British Weather beat indefatigably on the window and random interviewees on the box spouted off about how much money they'd raised by jogging a bit over six miles.

Well, he said, eventually. Anything physical's out of the question, so how about this: we have to put on four stone in four months.

That would be difficult, you definitely wouldn't want to do it and, best of all, nobody would be prepared to give you a penny whereas they wouldn't think twice about it if you were going up Kilimanjaro which you wanted to do anyway.

I thought this a tremendously good idea and my only regret is I wasn't quick enough to come back with the suggestion that occurred to me a day or two later: we both have chemo to raise money for Cancer Research.

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