Wednesday, December 03, 2014

When people say ‘Please fund my experience of a lifetime’

I’m starting to get annoyed by some of the things people are contacting me about asking for ‘sponsorship’. Specifically, I’m annoyed by being asked to help them raise funds as they have an ‘experience of a lifetime’, usually in a far-flung exotic corner of the world.

Now, this is not a particular rant about short-term charity trips or missions. I have my doubts about the effectiveness of those, but they are often to less than glamorous places. One of my closest friends went to visit an orphanage in Uganda in the summer. A few years ago I contributed to somebody’s place when our church ran a soccer school with kids in Burkina Faso. So, I’m not entirely anti the idea of sponsoring someone on foreign travel.

But I think there’s a distinction between visiting an orphanage to produce a film about the kids there, to raise awareness and possibly funds back home, and, say, hiking up Kilimanjaro. Or walking the Great Wall of China. Or cycling from Boston to New York City. Or scaling Machu Picchu.

These aren’t particularly worthy endeavours in themselves. They are things that tourists do. And I don’t see why I should feel guilty about not ‘digging deep’ to support people doing them. In fact, the sheer shamelessness of people asking me to help fund their fancy holidays makes me want to go on a slapping spree.

I know, I know, it’s for charity. But charity would be better served if people didn’t fly halfway around the world and donated the equivalent money. It’s not for charity. It’s for you. If it was for charity you would do these things in this country. You can shave your head anywhere. I’ve known people brave the bracing waves of Barry Island on New Year’s Day. If you want to cycle from Boston to New York, you can do that without leaving Lincolnshire!

And I’d say, if you want to go do those things – climb Kilimanjaro, run the Great Wall, bike round the States, or see the sun rise over Incan pyramids – then go and do them. Go! Have a great time. Take lots of photos. This world is full of great experiences and you are allowed to experience them. You don’t have to dress it up as just doing it for a cause. You can just do it for the joy of doing it; realise your dream for nothing more than that.

Just, you know, pay for it yourself.

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