We have just come to the end of the annual Christian Aid week, and all over the country collectors will be tearing open red envelopes, spilling out coins and plucking out paper money, counting it and sending off their collections to Christian Aid. Those same people will have been tramping the streets in all kinds of weather, opening and closing millions of front gates and greeting their neighbours and mostly strangers with the oft repeated greeting “I’m here to collect the Christian Aid envelope” all the while flashing their collectors badge just to show that they really are official volunteers. I love being a Christian Aid collector, but this year, for various reasons, I was unable to do so… and I’ve missed it.
What I haven’t missed is the variety of postures you have to adopt to initially post the envelope through people’s letterboxes; or the people who swear that they never received an envelope when you both know darn well that (a) you put one through their door two days ago and (b) that they’ve probably recycled it into the waste bin…still smile! Or others who tell you to hold on, fetch the envelope and then hand it back to you… empty….. keep smiling!
I quite happily accept the “No thank yous” or “We already give to other charities” because I never feel that anyone should be under any compulsion to give to any charity they don’t or can’t support or to feel obliged to just because you’re standing there expectantly right in front of them on their threshold with your bright red collectors bag.
However, it’s great when their donation is there, ready and waiting to be dropped into the bag. or they pick up the envelope with profuse apologies for not having prepared it, then dash off to find their purses and wallets, while you often have to try and make small talk with their young children or pets on the doorstep; till they return with the envelope, which they are desperately trying to seal (I believe that the sealing of a Christian Aid envelope is one of the harder challenges in life) before handing it over with a huge smile. After all, God loves a cheerful giver!
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
I even like the bulging envelopes, which you know are filled with pennies emptied out from various jars and pots, handed over apologetically because they think that it’s not very much but that you know will still make a difference; despite the fact that by the end of your collection round you know you’re going to need muscles like Channing Tatum!
But best of all, I love the fact that at least once a year Christians get out there, around the streets and homes in their neighbourhood, and become the human face of the Church. Door to door collections are very rare nowadays in an age when it’s probably easier and more economic to let your fundraising be done through the internet. An impersonal click of a button and an automatic email to acknowledge your donation is still valuable but showing people that you care enough about the work that is being done by Christian Aid to spend a few hours doing the legwork can be even more valuable.
So well done to all of you who did just that this year, your efforts will be greatly appreciated by the charity and by all of the projects that it supports – and well done to everyone who donated generously. I only hope that I can be part of it again next year.
In the meantime if you want to find out more about the work that your money and efforts could be involved in have a look on the Christian Aid website
I enjoyed reading of your enthusiasm for what you do. Why do you collect donations?
Thank you Dylan for your comment.
I think that the main reason that people donate is that unfortunately, however much they might wish to be able to physically do more, very often a financial offering is all they are able to give.
It is through these donations that Christian Aid are able to support both community and individual projects through their people on the ground or through partnerships and I know that some of my friends have personal stories to tell of how this has been life-changing for them
Of course we can also donate our time to show people that Christianity is not just about stuffy churches and insular membership and our prayers are always effective and free
I am deeply interested in learning about how the donations have been life-impacting to people you know. Connecting the financial donation to the reality of life, I think, is a huge gap that we need to bridge in order for us to develop and further the impacts to more people.
How have your friends been impacted? How can people like me be involved in nurturing and encouraging these impacts?
You are right Dylan that making the connections between the money that gets put into those envelopes and the affect it will have on someone else, far around the world and whom you will probably never meet is important to give people the confidence that they are making a difference.
So often we hear about charities using so much money on administration and advertising that too little of people’s donations get through to the people who really need it. I believe that Christian Aid ensures that as much money as possible reaches their projects – they quote 86% in 2012/13, with only 13% on fundraising, which seems a lot but when it brings in just under 100 million I would consider that money well spent, especially as only 1% was spent on general running costs.
With regard to the personal nature of our involvement, our church has featured many stories of how people have been helped, in our worship, teaching and involvement as a group of collectors – one story in particular standing out for me of a woman, whose only source of income was selling the scrappy small fish she had been able to obtain from local fishermen. She had to cook them over an open fire on sticks but they often broke up and bits fell into the fire. She was able to obtain a small supply of chicken wire through a Christian Aid project which meant that more of the fish stayed put and she therefore had more to sell, thus increasing her income. She was also able to help other women in her village because of this and as a result several people’s lifes have been changed and enhanced. Such a small thing given to one individual but it made such a difference.
As to how you can help? Perhaps doing a bit of research, finding out what Christian Aid is doing in your part of the world? Bringing it to people’s attention through your blog? The starting points are endless but if we all do something then it will all help
Thank you for your very insightful and helpful response.
I have recently watched lectures that present the point of view that non-profit’s should act more like for-profit businesses, and that people shouldn’t expect them to give 90/10 type of percentages; rather, that they be allowed to invest much more into fundraising and advertising. Their thinking being that if non-profits invest more into fundraising (say, 50%), then the 50% they have to give to those they aim to help is a larger sum than if they had dedicated only 10% to fundraising.
On the surface and within our current business-structured world, I think that makes sense. However, I think the current structure is also probably the main contributing factor as to why there are so many suffering from poverty and the many other issues arising from poverty.
I would love to help out with any projects that I might be able to with Christian Aid. I’ll definitely look into them more. I believe I am going to start a 400+ mile walk to raise funds for projects through some non-profits this summer. Perhaps they may have some I can help with.
I think that would be wonderful Dylan and please do keep me informed if your planned walk goes ahead