The Charity Dilemma

Imagine this: you’re browsing social media and see that two of your friends are raising money for the same charity. Both are doing big events to respectively raise money and awareness for a cancer charity after both having lost loved ones to the disease.

These two friends don’t know each other, but you know both of them and want to support them both. The dilemma is that you decide to make a donation, but who do you donate to? They’re both raising money for the same cause, so surely the fairest thing to do is to split your donation in two…but is it?

Another factor to consider (the plot thickens) is that you’re on a budget and right now, a £5 is all you’re able to give. A whole £5 donation on Just Giving looks much better than two sets of £2.50. So what do you do?

At university, there are hundreds of students fundraising throughout the year on campus for different reasons and charities. This year alone I’ve heard about a sponsored coast to coast tandem ride, a hitch-hike to Morocco, a fashion show and those are just the bigger events. There are plenty of small scale activities students do like cake sales in the students union, which I could never resist! If I gave money to everyone I wanted to, I’d soon be out of pocket and although I think charities are great, I’m only human and can’t support every single one.

Similar situation?

Back to my dilemma of choosing who to donate to, there are many things which passed through my mind: how close each one is to their target, how well I know each of them, who I’ve spoken to most in the past year, who is doing a greater physical challenge, the list goes on and I can’t bring myself to make a decision. The most important factor is my ‘face’ on social media. Justgiving, as with most websites it seems these days, is linked to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and everyone who looks on to anyone’s JG page can see who’s donated how much. The ‘face’ factor comes in two parts:

  1. Seeing a mutual friend’s donation and feeling obliged to match it
  2. Fear of friends seeing your donation and you appearing tight with money due to your donation

Of course there is the option to make your donation anonymous, which as someone who’s used JG to fundraise before can be quite frustrating as you want to know who your supporters are to thank them personally rather than the auto thankyou note JG obliges you to send. You can also hide your donation amount from the public, which I think is one of those things that only works well when everyone does it. When we see other people’s donations, we feel obliged to imitate others, which is what I see as the ‘losing face’ issue that has held me back from donating.

It really shouldn’t matter how much we donate to our friends’ fundraising efforts but ultimately, even though I want to support two of my friends, I’m still in a predicament because of social media pressure to match others.

The way I see it, by splitting my £5 donation, I’m showing support for both my friends Ali and Pete. I want to say sorry for my friends’ losses, thank you for raising awareness for Prostate Cancer and well done/good luck for your challenges, by splitting my donation, I hope that message comes through strong to both parties.

What would you do in my situation? Donate to one, both or neither?

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