F is for Fundraising and Charities
Something that is very different from back home relates to people’s approach to charity. While in Portugal you have a few public fundraising for the main charities – which have specific dates throughout the year – most of the time is pretty much to each individual to do their bit for charities. Most people I know actually support a few charities by yearly donations or tax donations, but they don’t tell. In fact, is not common at all advertising it as people will see it as showing off rather than helping.
In the UK is the exact opposite. When it comes to public fundraising, almost every week you can find in your nearest tube people with a “bucket” (it reminds me of the ones I had at the beach), most of the time dressed in unusual outfits (chicken costume anyone?) asking for support to a specific charity. If you are not from here you may think it is a scam, as some of the charities even have funny names (and the chicken outfit doesn’t help) but it is not a scam and the outfits are mainly to catch your eye.
Besides this public fundraising, it is not unusual to attend events where silent auctions are being run or where, to take part, you pay more than the usual fee as the money will go to charity. These tend to be organized by big companies and are always quite fun to attend.
And then there are the “I’m doing something for charity” fundraisings, where the something can be anything from taking part in the marathon to skydiving. This type of fundraising I have never seen before, and I even thought it was a bit weird, a bit of showing off. Why are you advertising you are doing something, why not just give the money? This were my thoughts until I met a girl a few years ago that was sleeping one night on the street outside Kings Cross station to fundraise for a charity that helps homeless people. When she mentioned how much she raised, I realised that on her own she would only be able to give a small percentage of the total raised, but by asking friends, family and colleagues for sponsorship she could get more. And she did spend the night outside the station, but she was too scared to sleep.
I am now one of those people doing something for charity, as I will be taking part in the “Race for Life” from Cancer Research UK. I am very happy that I have almost reached my fundraising goal, as it feels like a commitment. And all the support I got so far also means that I cannot give up. And in a way you realise that, in this particular case, besides the fundraising their goal is to get you more active, as that helps reducing several medical problems. Is not as if by running you don’t get anything, but by changing a bit your lifestyle to incorporate activity you are improving your health in a general way. In the end, you are also doing it for yourself.
Next week is the London marathon. Probably one of the largest fundraising events in the UK, as most people, if not all, are running for a cause. Have a sneak peak at it if you have a chance and you will even find those crazy chicken outfits in the race. At first, as a foreigner, you may think they are a bit weird and crazy but then you realise that you actually remember them among the entire crowd of runners (and you may even remember the charity name they are wearing).