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Saturday / May 28.
HomemilastwordThe Last Word: Don’t Give Up on Giving

The Last Word: Don’t Give Up on Giving

In Australia, competition for the donation dollar seems particularly fierce.We’re buying red noses, pink ribbons, and yellow daffodils. We’re running, jogging, cycling, swimming and walking to raise funds for worthy causes.

As an example, in the mivision office this year, team members have (among other things) walked 65km for 65 Roses (cystic fibrosis), cranked up the BBQ to help refugees, organised fundraisers to fight human trafficking and rode 200km to conquer cancer. It is probably not too dissimilar in your office.

Then there are the fundraisers for the local school/sports club/community centre… emergency earthquake/flood/famine/bushfire relief… and those animal mascots that accost you in the street. Every time we turn around or check our emails, we’re asked to take out our wallets… Do you ever wish it would stop? It’s a phenomenon called donor fatigue – people simply stop donating to charities because of the constant pressure to give, the resistance to over-aggressive fundraising campaigns, because our budgets are stretched or we’re frustrated with the way some charities are run.

For the past couple of years, Australians have received the top gong on the World Giving Index. It is a scale developed by the Charities Aid Foundation and based on the percentage of people who donated money to charity, volunteered their time, and helped a stranger over a particular month According to the latest figures from the ATO, Australians gave $2.2billion to charities in 2011 with about 38 per cent of taxpayers – 4.79 million – giving an average of $461. Multiply that out across all taxpayers and each of us gave an average of $150 or 0.21 per cent of our income. Less than most of us spend on coffee in a month.

..people simply stop donating to charities because of the constant pressure to give

It’s clear then that sections of our population give large chunks of their income to causes they’re passionate about whilst others give, well… not a lot. From our observations, eye care professionals are particularly generous – with time, skills, equipment and supplies – in helping to restore sight to those in less fortunate communities. But unlike America – where philanthropy is almost compulsory for high-income earners – Australia’s mega-rich don’t have quite the same reputation for generosity (except for the likes of Dick Smith and Twiggy Forrest).

For the rest of us, perhaps Christmas – the official season for giving – is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the reasons NOT to succumb to donor fatigue. Sometimes we need to recognise just how well off we really are. The vast majority of us have roofs over our heads, beds to sleep on, food in the fridge and spare change in the top drawer. We have access to education and health care. Australia is definitely the lucky country.

Be inspired by those charity event “junkies” as they catapult themselves into ever more extreme events. Wear that plastic wristband/lapel pin/silly nose. Shave that head. Grow that moustache. Fund those kids overseas. Cough up some notes for the Salvo Army officer on the street corner. Fork out for that charity pen/sticker/keyring/car ornament and display it with pride. Let’s never give up on giving.

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