Who are we to judge?

I read an article today which criticised people involved in the #icebucketchallenge as ‘narcissistic’. Putting aside the criticisms of ‘Slacktivism’ which Beate Sorum beautifully rebuts, the implication that there are ‘good’ reasons for doing something charitable and ‘bad’ reasons really bothered me.

It got me thinking about some of the reasons that I have given in recent memory. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, the reasons haven’t always been pure!

Some were pretty standard…

1. An advert on the tube got me angry about the horrendous things young girls have to experience. Doing something ( a text donation) made me feel like I was making a difference. Even a tiny one.

2. My dad was poorly and I wanted to help the organsation who had given him help and support.

3. My friend was fundraising and wrote a beautiful story about her friend who had ovarian cancer which made me cry.

Some were a bit less noble…

4. A load of people that I respect donated and I wanted to feel part of the gang by donating and sharing on social media

5. I was asked in front of people so I didn’t feel I could say no.

6. It helped assuage that guilt I feel at christmas when I know there are others less fortunate than you but I still over indulge.

7. I had missed out on an own place for a sporting event i really wanted to do so had to take a charity place and fundraise for them.

Some were more complex

8. I fundraised for Crohns and Colitis UK as someone I love has crohns and it helped me show him that i care and also helped me feel less helpless as there is nothing I can do to make his condition go away

9. I fundraised for the charity I worked for as a) i knew it would make a huge difference as I’d seen their work in action but also b) because I was nearly 30 and recently single and it made me feel good and c) sharing it on FB to get donations made me look good too!

All of the charities are ones that I probably would have given to at some point anyway. But my motivations for making the actual donation at the time weren’t always noble. Does that make them ‘bad’ donations?

Some I’m sure will argue that donors that come from a purer place will result in a more loyal donor. In the above cases, this wasn’t actually true. (But that’s another blog post I think….Hint: It has something to do with great story telling. And actually asking.)

The reasons that people give are often complex. And not always pure. But they are almost always driven by some deep seated human need or desire – whether this be the need to feel useful, competitiveness with your mates, the need to make a difference in the world or the desire to look good. It’s up to us as fundraisers to find out what our supporters’┬áneeds and desires are, understand them and, if we can, meet them. Not to judge them.


  1. We have many human emotions, it doesn’t matter what they are when it comes to giving, it matters that we are human and do so.


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