Yesterday I got a phone call from Cancer Research. For a few years I made monthly donations which I was spurred on to doing when my mum died of pancreatic cancer in 2007. That was all fine and dandy until they started sending begging letters asking for the donations to be increased to a level I considered to be excessive. Sometimes they included a ballpoint pen with the letter which I found infuriating - you don't go asking for more money and then waste it on freebies!
Eventually, these letters pissed me off so much they had the reverse effect and I cancelled the direct debit altogether.
The man on the phone last night thanked me obsequiously for my previous donations, and when he finally removed his tongue from my arse he proceeded to try and entice me to take part in their new money-raising initiative. What this boiled down to was a lottery, where your donations would entitle you to so many entries into a monthly draw with significant prizes to be won.
"Would I be interested in this?" he asked. "No, I would not" I replied.
"We do have a lower donation level which gives you....." he began, when I interrupted with "It's not about the money, it's the entire concept I find distasteful. A charity exists to raise money, not to give it away." He went a bit quiet then thanked me for my time and hung up.
Later I got to thinking about how we have spent money over the past year, and how much of it was unnecessary. It turned out that we spent a shocking amount on stuff that wasn't strictly needed; things that were very much 'wants' rather 'needs'. Okay, a fair chunk of it has been to get the boy independently mobile, but even then he could get the bus or cycle instead. The rest has just been replacing things that weren't broken but we were just a bit bored with, and I hang my head in shame thinking of the good that money could have done if it had been put to better use.
Okay, it's my money and I earned it so it could be argued that it's entirely up to me where it goes, but when you fight so hard to not get caught up in the consumer machine and then realise how often you've allowed yourself to compromise such principles, it's hard to not feel guilty.
However, when you get charities trying to pull stunts like this latest thing from Cancer Research, it does make me think that the way to go would be to use my abilities to assist local charities and stop feeling ashamed of having bought an iPod.