Irrational Giving?

Mark Easton discusses charitable giving and suggests that donors are not always rational  – worse, do not give according to worthiness.

Martin Brookes, chief executive of New Philanthropy Capital, gave a provocative speech [168KB PDF] in which he argued that donors to “good causes” are often “fickle, casual and lazy”. They give money to organisations without rationale or proper thought.

“Some charitable causes are just ‘better’, and more deserving, than others”, he argued. “But donors in the main don’t behave rationally or morally. Donors give to feel good, rather than to have an impact.”

I guess it’s true that some charities are less deserving than others. I suspect, though, that my denfinition might not coincide with that of the righteous. Firstly, any charity that takes the taxpayer shilling is undeserving and gets nothing from me. Not as sous.

As for as the list of ‘deserving’ charities go – none of my preferred options is listed.

I wondered what this hierarchy of charitable needs might look like and asked Mr Brookes to rank this range of causes:

1. Learning
2. Planet Earth
3. Human suffering
4. The arts
5. Endangered donkeys

The only one that I’d consider giving to is the donkeys. In general, though, small independents based upon what I feel at the time is my criteria. What other people think I should do doesn’t get a look in. If I want to give to a kittens charity, that’s what I’ll do and anyone who disapproves can put their disapproval where the sun don’t shine. It’s my money and I’ll give it to whoever I wish – not what others think I should.

What is it with these people who think they should tell others where to give their money?

…but there is an issue around the freedom of people to give money impulsively without criticism for being “fickle, casual and lazy”. Isn’t there?

But there shouldn’t be, Should there?


  1. I listened to this moron on PM the other night, my simple response to him is “It’s my money to decide how I give, now go and stick your head back up your own ar*e where it belongs”.

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