An indecent proposal

Categories Opinion

When we ask for charity, we make up all sorts of excuses. Give away that old sweater you don’t need it. You spend so much on eating out. Give away the price of a meal. It’s not a big deal.

It’s sad. Asking for charity is like asking for a loan that we are not even going to use. Or, pay back for that matter. But should we be so overwhelmingly apologetic? You should have a long face and go crawling on your knees if you raising money for the Hindu militia or the Islamic militia or the Christian militia or the Marxist militia (they have no religion, remember?).

But for books for children, blankets for the suffering in Muzaffarnagar or Uttarakhand, why should we not be able to demand it from our well to do friends and relatives? This is an argument in favour of making charity a dinner table and drawing room conversation.

But, I understand we live in a democracy. No one should be put under any kind of pressure for any reason. All we can do is leave a donation box at the cash counter. Dear sir, you have made purchases worth ten thousand rupees, would you mind placing the note of the smallest denomination in this jar? It must say exactly that, because all the donation boxes are filled with ten rupee notes.

But, I agree, those donation boxes look suspicious. You don’t know where the money is going. Of course, it has a NGO name on it, but are they being audited? How do you see their work? In this day and age, do they advertise a facebook page? How do you even know the little box is originally theirs?

I totally understand your consternation. But you must know some friends, friends of friends, heard of some organization, read an article about some other people, saw an appeal in Times of India or NDTV. Did you pay up?

NDTV had a blanket donation campaign. They wanted 5000 for Muzaffarnagar, the number was soon exceeded. They needed 10,000 for Uttarakhand, which took a little time. They needed 35,000 for Delhi (I noticed that’s a revised and a much lower target). The higher number for Delhi surprised us too. Our perception of calamity influences the urgency with which we are willing to help.

But my whole argument is rather than donating myself, would it be uncivil to force my well off friends to make a contribution? Would it be a nuisance if I mailed an appeal for funds if I had proof of good deed? Would it spoil your fun filled Facebook timeline if I posted a few photos of the amazing work that some other and better people are doing?

Why make charity and donations so hush hush? It’s not a disease. We ask each other for the chartered accountants number, why can’t we ask for a NGO’s number? You brag about your foreign trip, I would love you to brag about about how much you have donated.
Would it be so unfair to nudge or push a little once in a while? You may not like the cause I am promoting, but if it makes you think about giving, my job is done.

As a first step, toward that advocacy, I will force you to spend ten minutes on this presentation of Bakul Foundation. No staff, no funding, run completely by volunteers, promoting volunteerism and doing a heckload of good work at that:

http://www.slideshare.net/BakulFoundation/bakul-foundation-2013-flashback