Friday, 15 May 2015

Something on my mind

Good morning. In all the papers this morning is a very sad story of  a wonderful old lady of 92 who was found dead last week at the bottom of the Avon Gorge at Bristol. It is believed that she threw herself off because she was overwhelmed by the demands for money from charities, and recently a large sum of money had gone missing in the post which she had sent to her son. She was very upset by this and lost faith in people.

You can read the story here.

Olive Cooke was Britain's oldest poppy seller, she had given 72 years of service to The British Legion, she was a grandmother and great grandmother. She gave away much of her pension to charities who pestered her relentlessly. It was all getting too much for her. How very sad, that this vulnerable old lady was driven to suicide. Sad, but also very shocking.

I get letters in the post asking for money, usually from charities that I have donated to before. Once they get hold of your details they cling like limpets. Lists of names are sold on and before you know it more demands arrive. I say demands rather than requests, because of the aggressive nature of their literature. Images of animal cruelty and sick children are used to make the reader feel obliged to respond and donate. I'm sorry to say, but all mine go in the bin.

Do not feel guilty about ignoring demands like this. Do not feel guilty about walking away from charity chuggers in the street. Do not feel guilty about not answering the door to charity collectors, or saying no on the phone if you get a call from a charity. This might seem an uncaring and hard nosed way to behave, but I know how much I can afford and who I want to give it to. I have charities named in my will, a large chunk of my estate will go to them eventually.

I do donate to charity, but I give willingly to the charities of my choice, as and when I can afford a few quid. I will not sign up to any direct debits.  I'm sorry but I don't do the In Need, the Red Nose, or the Relief thing on the tele either.

Please keep a check on elderly relatives, make sure they are not being harassed. Keep an eye open for any mail that may arrive from a charity, be nosy, ask if they are donating. Olive Cooke was getting piles of the stuff almost daily, she was seen as a soft touch because she found it hard to say no.

Give to charity by all means, but make donations only if you can afford it. Money is tight, I don't have a great deal, but I save up and when I have a donation I send a cheque. Last week I delivered my cheque to Bransby Horses. When I do send a cheque in the post I put a note in for them not to contact me, not to send any begging letters, because I will ignore them if they do.

Above all, don't feel guilty if you can't afford to give on a regular basis, a £1 coin in a box is a lovely gesture.

Glad to get that off my chest. Toodle pip.


50 comments:

  1. I had a 'phone call from Oxfam this morning. A cheery young man asked me if I had time to talk to him and I explained that if he wanted my money, I have none to spare. I laughed and thanked me for my previous support (I buy used books from Oxfam online when postage is free). After talking for a while about the need for clean water in Nepal, he then said that bearing in mind what I had told him, could I donate "just" £12 per month, so I explained that I can't and told him that I will be walking to the shops this afternoon because I can't afford the bus fare. He said that he understood and there were many people in my position who donate £18 twice a year and asked me if I could do that! He was very nice but he just kept to his script. Grrr!

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  2. Well said Ilona. So sad. When charities turn bad you know the world has gone a bit askew. My sister told me that she was giving money via a direct debit to a well known charity (that has Red in the title) and was harassed on the telephone every few days to up her amount. When she said 'no' the caller became increasingly pushy (think double glazing salesmen). She is a young woman, who runs her own businesses and is very confident at dealing with pushy people - even she felt exasperated. In the end she cancelled her direct debit and put the phone down whenever they called. Who loses out? Debbie.

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  3. I really hate when third party fundraisers call and can't answer a thing about the charity. I have a standard line, "I don't make cold donations. Thankyou. Goodbye." The end. Totally unethical to prey on elderly, but having worked in nonprofit for over 20 years, the pressure to bring money in turns normally mission driven leaders to have a mission all about money.

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  4. This shockingly sad story of a lovely & yet vulnerable lady reminds me of those irritating chuggers.

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  5. I agree with what you've said. That poor lady. Like yourself, I donate to charities as and when I can and I hate being approached in the street. I donated to a hospice charity for 10 years on a monthly basis. The money was debited directly from my salary in the NHS, which I think is a good way of doing it. We all have good intentions but first and foremost in my opinion charity begins at home. (Mrs LH)

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  6. How sad is that, it makes you wonder what the world is coming to.

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  7. You are right not to feel guilty MQ. Until recently I donated to the WWW, to help rescue cruelly treated bears. As you say, the images are carefully chosen to tug at our heart strings, and I would rather help animals.
    I am a pensioner so don't have much cash to spare, however I agreed to give £6 a month, after a time I got a phone call, bottom line my donation went up to £8 even though I could barely afford it, I cancelled my subscription when I checked my bank statement recently and found they had been helping themselves to £10 without my permission !!
    I will still continue to help animals, but now I take gifts of food, blankets etc., to my nearest shelter, that way I know the animals will benefit, not all the 'middle men' doing very nicely thank you out of other peoples misery.
    Good post MQ.

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  8. I have walked up to Charity Stalls set up outside supermarkets etc thinking "I'll pop a pound in the tin" only to find that it's monthly direct debit or nothing. How ridiculous!

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  9. Absolutely. Very well put. I saw this sad story today too and it is heartbreaking. I have my charities that I make my donations to, and I will stick a £1 in a pot if there is something going on locally occasionally, but I support a child in Ecuador through Compassion International, and I make an annual donation to the Salvation Army in memory of my mother, because she thought they were a good organisation who do a lot of social work, and I also support them personally. I always support local charities for cancer if I can, as that is what Mum died from, and I'll support something if it personally affects one of my friends. It is so hard to decide who to support these days that we just have to draw the line somewhere. Thanks for your post on this x

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  10. I read the story. I'm hoping the cold callers feel ashamed of themselves.
    Jane x

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  11. What a sad story.

    It's not just established charities that are after our money either. In the U.S. there are sites like GoFundMe, which I liken to Internet panhandling, for people to ask for donations for all sorts of things.

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    1. What's panhandle?

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    2. Laura, panhandle is another word for beg. It might be an old-fashioned word that I picked up from my mother.

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    3. Ahhh thank you x

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  12. What a terrible story about this dear old lady. It just goes to show how much of a money driven business charities have become over the years. I never get tempted by letters or phone calls as I know how these charities operate.
    I give gladly to my local Food Bank when I can afford to do so, and I can be assured that the food I donate will go to the needy. I never get pestered by the food bank to donate more or more often, so there is no pressure for me to carry on giving when I can`t do so. Charity begins at home, as far as I`m concerned, so I shall look out for my grown up children and my grandchild before I can even consider giving to anybody else. No guilt felt in this household if I can only donate to a charity of my choice on rare occasion.

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  13. There was a point my grandmother could no longer go on and my uncle took over her affairs. He was astounded to see all the religious charities that were harassing her. He always believed they were part of her dementia, and it could well be their incessant pleas were.

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  14. I've had those pushy calls. They've become so clever. One group I donated money to recently called me and used the form of my name that only friends use. Totally sucked me in at first. Thought it was someone I knew. Put me on the back foot at first but soon cut the call short. Within a week they rang me again. This time saying they weren't ringing to asks for money but to tell me about some of their campaigns. Listened for a couple of minutes, and yes, you guessed it. The caller asked for money to support the campaign. If they ring again I will tell them I will never give them money if they call again. That I had given them only online because at the time I had money and wanted to donate.

    So sad about the lady. Horrendous that these charities use call centres to harass people. I bin the material too. Except the unsolicited cards. I use them. They shouldn't have sent them to me. Preying on guilt.

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  15. It's a heartbreaking story, and shame on the charities for the way they're conducting themselves! This is a problem on our side of the pond, too. Our next door neighbors are in their 90s, like Olive, and they're inundated with "requests" for donations. By mail. By phone. The husband has a pat line he gives them all... he tells them all of their financial decisions must be cleared with his son. If there are call backs (as there sometimes are) when one of his sons are there (several times per week), they get a good chewing out. I've personally discovered that once you make a donation to a charity, it's like opening the floodgates to "requests" for more. And I'd NEVER do a direct payment from our bank account... not one time, let alone monthly. Doind so gives them your banking information, which is always dangerous.

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  16. Everything changes doesn't it? I was happy to give to people collecting for a charity in a tin and still do for any who still use tins. I support a well known horse/donkey charity and my husband a dog charity with direct debits. We've supported them for years and it's only a few pounds a month each. We don't mind doing this. I also send donations throughout the year to the horse charity if they need extra funds for some particular disaster that's happened. But we will not do direct debits for any other charity no matter how much they try to harass me on the doorstep. If I see an appeal in a leaflet or newspaper article with a particularly horrendous picture of animal cruelty I send a donation anonymously. Instead of sending a cheque with all our details on ie names, bank branch, account number etc I buy a postal order from the post office and staple the form (which I haven't filled in) and send it with a blank card saying that I am sending a donation anonymously because I don't want to be contacted for more funds nor do I want to be put on a mailing list despite what they say in the blurb about ticking boxes to opt out, but I would like to help. I have done this a few times and I'm sure I'll be doing it again.

    Joan (Wales)

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  17. Well said as always Ilona. I read this very sad story too. We get piles of paper through the door. I do make use of the free cards, postcards and biros and pencils though. I may not have asked for all this stuff, but if they choose to send it to me that is their choice. The address labels are very useful sometimes, although I have to say that I do have an enormous pile of them!! Not everyone can be as strong minded as you and me. I am also very forceful on the phone when we get the 'international' and 'withheld' numbers come up. They get short shrift. I always ask them if I have asked them to call and if not (as is usual) remind them that cold calling is an offence. Usually they put the phone down pretty sharply then! So sad for that lady and her family. As you so rightly say, we should all keep a check on anyone that we may know who is vulnerable. Ann x

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  18. I so agree with you, we get tons of phone calls from charities which we ignore. Here in the US we have a DO NOT CALL list but unfortunately charities and govt are exempt. My opinion is I pay for the phone service for my convenience, not yours. Thank goodness for caller ID.

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  19. I read that story and felt so bad. I remember checking on my mom and going through her checkbook and seeing how may charities she was writing checks to or have directly pulled - $3 here $5 there - it all added up. She didn't have the money to be doing even that - but she felt because they sent her "things" without her asking - she should. I stopped them - but the solicitations never ended. Horrible charity practices. We do what you do - save, give and tell them no more if they solicit us. Marketing for charities - in the states - is a very profitable business - which seems so very wrong.

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  20. Well said. We have a standard response- that we never donate to any telephone solicitation. We also have Caller ID so can avoid most of them.
    A widowed friend (who doesn't have Caller ID) asks the caller if he or she is a volunteer or a paid caller, then she states that she is a widow with a fixed budget and has already carefully planned out to whom she wished to give. Finally, she asks to be permanently taken off their calling list and never contacted again. JanF

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  21. Last year, I sponsored someone £5. I've been bombarded by letters and emails ever since. To be honest, the charity has probably spent almost as much on postage as I sponsored them.

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  22. Such a giving woman, all her life. This is terribly sad.
    I expect now there will be a lot of talk about restricting the ways charities can approach potential donors - I hope it makes a difference. And I hope there is a follow-up on the cash that went missing in the mail, which sounds like the it was the last straw for this kind woman.

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  23. That is the saddest thing. Many moons ago I worked in the fund raising dept for a very well known UK charity. We were sent on a course where the lecturer was a professional will reader. He told us to target elderly ladies as they were most likely widows who had inherited money from their dead husbands. My colleague and I were appalled at the sheer uncaring money grabbing attitude of the charity. I left soon afterwards and apart from shopping in charity shops and donating to 2 local charities where I know the money goes straight into their hands I will have nothing to do with any charity hawkers etc.

    Good on you Ilona for posting this and I hope Olive has a well deserved place in heaven xxx

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  24. I have and do now work for a charity, but although its a gift shop we have all the stuff behind the scenes that people can see where their money is going, its a local community, job shop, cv help, support with household for local families in need, foodbank etc etc. I have the freedom to give bits a way if I want to or swap stuff unlike other charities, it is lovely. These bigger charities are spoiling what should be a good feeling about giving. I like to sell something so people have something for their money too, they have a bargain and we get support win win. we are a lot lower than most charity shops, ie we recycle and sell local uniform for £1 an item, saving local families a fortune. we are a small independent charity for the local community which makes a huge difference. The story about the lady is so sad and it makes me so angry. Julie Taylor

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    1. It sounds like a lovely shop, Julie, just how a charity shop should be.

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  25. I doubt there will be anyone waiting to help me out if ever I require charity. I too used to give when I could afford to but stopped when the begging letters began and requests to sell x amount of raffle tickets etc etc . I now just give to a our local air ambulance who do a sterling job plus local animal charities. I would never pay by direct debit. A lot of money paid to charities went into the Iceland banks earning huge interests and never ended up helping anyone except the ones running it.

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  26. I responded to an advert for Oxfam asking for £2 per month, I decided to pay £5 and my partner said he'd match it so I set up a Direct Debit for £10. Within a week I got a letter asking for £15, then £18 and I was bombarded with literature and distressing photos. In the end I cancelled the lot and got myself removed from the mailing list. Talk about Oxfam shooting itself in the foot !

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  27. I think this is terrible charities are there to help people. I give to who I choose if they contact me for more I will have nothing more to do with them. So far I have had no problems but my mum said in her Late eighties I think I am old enough to stop giving to care for the aged they should be helping me.

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  28. I am hearing this all the time from elderly patients, they are bombarded with requests from charities and the more you give , the more they ask for, Some poor people, starting with dementia can end up with loads of charity tat and no money to eat. makes my blood boil. Good for you Ilons for giving your readers permission to give only if they can afford and wish to.

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  29. Oh I didn't realise that she'd committed suicide. How sad. RIP Olive. You deserve it.

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  30. While I was still working I gave regularly to one charity that way I could walk past all the beggers, charity collectors etc. my consence etc was clear. I was doing my bit.

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  31. This is truly sad.
    It's the same here in the U.S. If you give an organization a donation they want more and they keep sending letters.
    They would have a lot more funds if they stopped wasting them on paper, envelopes, staff to type and copy letters, and postage.

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  32. I was so upset when I read about this, for this lady's life to end in this way is heartbreaking.
    I give to a local heart charity who do sterling work , and who helped me when I was diagnosed. I donate a set monthly amount by standing order, and occasionally make a one-off donation aswell. Our income is low, but their help and support when I was at a very low point, both physically and emotionally was invaluable. I'll give something back for as long as I possibly can, but will feel no guilt if/ when I can no longer manage to do so.

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  33. I am retired so I can't do as much as I'd like to. I do contribute financially to ferret rescues, and I provide a home for shelter ferrets I try to keep seven or so, though I only have two now. The next time my daughter visits we are going down to the rescue in Atlanta and bring home four more. I always get the older or those needing palliative care, so we don't always have a lot of time together. They give me more in the way of companionship than I ever put out in money.

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    1. Bless you Harry, I agree, you get a lot more back from looking after pets, well worth what it costs.

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  34. Completely agree! I'm always amazed at the way people treat each other; we're in this together!

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  35. Thank you all for your comments, it's shocking how so many people have been harassed. I don't know one single person that doesn't give something to a charity, so it strikes me that in a lot of case the motivation for grabbing more money, is greed.

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  36. Once I donated for a fundraising of our local newspaper, giving my first name wrong. During the next months, I got requests for donations from 12 different organisations, all under the wrong name. This showed me that the newspaper sold the addresses of its donators.

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  37. P.s. Just remembered too that if you ever donate by mobile phone.....usually to TV aid programmes you will most likely be contacted on your mobile asking you to donate again.......once they have your details..........!!!from Sue H again

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  38. Just to put it out there......there are two organisations where you can register for free to lessen substantially unwanted phone calls. TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE 0845 0700707. Also SILENT CALLGUARD 0844 3722325. I can personally recommend both these organisations having been bombarded by unwanted calls after moving house 3 years ago even though we are ex directory. Also remember the MAILING PREFERENCE SERVICE(details online). In addition , consider the options available when registering for the ELECTORAL ROLL. There is an option to register for the option which reduces the number of organisations that have access to your details. Your home is YOUR castle. If you don't want to open your door, then don't. Likewise with the phone.....you can always check 1471 to see who's been calling. Remember also to opt out of organisations passing your details on whenever you give your name and address for ANYTHING, whether by phone or mail. From Sue (Norfolk England)

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  39. Hi.The sad and tragic story of how Olive died after giving of herself for so many years brought tears to my eyes.It's just not right that her life ended that way.Good advice from you and many other of your readers on how to deal with this, and caring for others who are vulnerable.Regards,D.

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  40. I have been staying in my dad's house during the week while he is in the nursing home and have noticed that most of his mail is solicitous in nature. Most of it is either for subscriptions to political publications and requests for charitable donations. I have started to use the SASE's that these organizations enclose (to speed the donation) to return their materials to them with a note to please remove his name from their mailing list. I do agree that many of these so called "charitable organizations" prey upon the elderly like my father who has dementia and forgets what he has given and when and how much.

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  41. Your post has made me feel less guilty about dealing with charity collectors/pressgangs. Early in the new year agency driving can be a bit quiet so i tell the doorstep pressgangs that i'm on short time, which is met with 'its only a few pounds per week' or 'if you're on benefits you should be able to afford a few pounds. Oh and all my neighbours have signed up.
    And thats before i start with the street beggars, i remember you were approached by beggars on Huddersfield station on your last walk.
    Very annoying when people seem to think you should give them money.
    Dave.

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