Best days of their lives, most expensive of ours

Howard Lake | 8 September 2009 | Blogs

It’s started already. And we are only a few weeks into the school year here in Scotland: you lucky southerners might just have a few weeks’ more respite….

So far I have received two different requests to raise funds (I like to think of them as guilt trip treatises) for the wee man’s school. And there’s still the book fair, the ubiquitous race night and the all important Christmas fair to come. The latter is a particular favourite, for not only will I be expected to supply donations – homemade apricot chutney and ginger loaves I’ll have you know – but I’ll also be invited to pay to get in, then spend a small fortune buying up all my own donated goods.

Last year I worked out that between donations of goods and cash, I gave in the region of 150 pounds to the local school. Which frankly was money that could have – and perhaps should have – gone to other more deserving good causes.

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And it’s not just schools – everyone is trying to raise money from the local community these days. I could spend every Saturday from October to December at some sort of Christmas fair eating my body weight in mince pies.

The question is – does such extremely local fundraising hinder or benefit the fundraising efforts of bigger charities and causes? Particularly in such financially straitened times, does it lead to fewer or more donations? And should we care that genuine bona fide charities are increasingly finding themselves competing for people’s hard earned cash with publicly and taxpayer funded services and activities?