Why I Give

October 27, 2015

Stack of £20 notes

We are bombarded on a daily basis with need and I don’t know about you but I have need fatigue. And it is not that I have grown calloused or hard hearted to the needs on display, it is quite the contrary.

I feel overwhelmed. The needs appear too great for me to even make a dent so I don’t respond.


On the other hand, the charities that raise mega tons of cash well are those that make you laugh and cry, feel the despair and then raise you to hope (Comic Relief being a fine example) but I seldom respond to these either.

I want to make a conscious choice about where I give. I know the mega charities raise mega bucks because so many people do give in an emotionally-led way – but I choose a different way.

I believe in giving, both because of my faith and also because I am acutely aware that we live in such rare privilege in the UK that to not give anything ever is an act of ignorance and misanthropy that is almost unforgivable. My choices have changed over time, but here, I believe, is my formula to personal giving:

It’s not all about the money

YOU are a valuable asset. Your time, company or expertise may be just the ticket to instigate a life-changing gift. Volunteer to help an organisation whose cause makes your heart beat faster. If they don’t need your help with day-to-day stuff you may be able to act as a Trustee, hold fundraising events or use your skills in some other way.

Give in a way that empowers further change, not that stunts growth

One of the reasons that I love my work is that unrestricted giving is invested into new work allowing us to roadtest new approaches that ultimately make even more of a difference. One of our values is to develop responsibility and independence in those that we serve, not keep them dependent on constant intervention. Too often I see giving that maintains the status quo or pushes people into deeper dependence. Responsible giving changes things for the better.

Give to the need you see

Not the need you are forced to see through TV advertising but the need you meet at church, in the street, at work or school, the need that is crying out to you daily in the lives of people around you. It may be a family struggling to pay their gas bill or an elderly neighbour who is crying out for company. I believe that we are presented with opportunities for generosity on an almost daily basis so open your eyes to the needs around you and respond.

Demand Accountability

Responsible giving should demand responsible spending. All charities have overheads, it is both necessary and important for those that they help that they are run and managed well and that they are able to employ those with the right skills to do the job brilliantly. The people we help deserve no less. However, I need to know that my buck is valuable to the mission I am supporting. I stopped a significant gift to an organisation that I knew very well when I realised that they did not see their mission in the same terms that I did. It was a really hard decision but one that was well worth it. If an organisation becomes blind to those it is supposed to serve then they may well have lost their way. A good development team will welcome feedback from donors and communicate if somehow the message has gone out wrong.

So please hear my heartfelt cry and give, give, give. Not because you were coerced or manipulated but because it is a genuine pleasure to share your resources in a way that can make a big difference.

This week’s blog is from Claire Burton, Head of Business Development, Langley House Trust