Friday, April 24, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME'  by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 197-198)


A number of our smaller members bodies drew attention to the fact that they find it difficult to obtain sufficient funds to carry on their work, while some of the larger organisations receive more than their fair share of available money and definitely appear to be empire building.

Attention was drawn to this matter some years ago and it was therefore suggested by the Council of Social Service that we should investigate the possibility of setting up a COMMUNITY CHEST to ensure distribution of available money proportionately between all social welfare concerns.

I obtained all necessary details regarding the establishment of a Community Chest and we called a public meeting to discuss the matter.  Unfortunately the larger organisations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Spastic Welfare, Quadriplegics and Slow Learners violently opposed the proposition and the situation remains the same today.

The Council of Social Service has drawn attention to this matter once more and it is hoped that a solution may be found.

Not only are some of the larger organisations permitted to have regular *door knocks (which are, in my opinion, an invasion of privacy and perhaps even a form of blackmail), but we are now pestered with **telephone appeals requesting us to buy books of tickets, pens, or other articles on behalf of charities, which appear to benefit very little from this effort.  An exposure over one of the T.V. channels a short time ago claimed that the only people likely to benefit to any extent from one appeal were the public relations people who had organised it.  The firm concerned had declined an invitation to appear on the T.V. programme.

Telethon and Appealathon raise large sums of money but one wonders if there is an audited balance sheet available to the public who donate, and what care is taken to see that children and others collecting for these appeals are over the stipulated age of 16 and using official collection tins?  (I believe Appealathon has been taken over by Variety WA).

A woman came into my office on one occasion and asked if she could go round the office to collect.  She had an open jam jar and culd produce no authority.  When she thought I intended to make telephone enquiries about her eligibility to collect she left very hurriedly.

Street appeals are no longer a reliable source of income.  Elderly women used to give their services regularly to collect for various charities, but few are now available.  Times have changed - many are now babysitting for relatives or have taken on part-time jobs from necessity.  Blind dogs and cripples always draw sympathy and organisations which can call upon a large number of members or school children continue to do reasonably well, but for many of the smaller bodies the reward is hardly worth the effort.  What steps are taken to ensure that the small boys collecting are not under 16?  Have the police the right to control this?"

*I'd best not let Phil read this part as for several years he collected in our street on behalf of the Heart Foundation.  It was probably a 50% success rate.  He has since given it up, feeling he is too old to go door to door, not knowing for sure who he is likely to encounter.  Some people can be quite rude.  Now he just gives the Heart Foundation $5/month and feels he is still doing his bit.

**This appears to happen with monotonous regularity these days.  For several years we took part in some of these appeals but these days I explain we are in our 80s, old age pensioners and apologise for not being able to help.  In our working days we were always buying raffle tickets and making annual donations to various charities.  We feel we've done all that is needed of us.


  1. Hari OM
    Indeed nothing has changed in this regard and, indeed, we see a proliferation of websites dedicated to obtaining funding; mostly for very genuine reasons, but it does all add to the 'charity fatigue' of the giving public. I do worry that so many charities also feel it necessary to pull upon the baser need of humans to gamble by offering not just simple raffle tickets, but large sums and vehicles. Where doest THAT funding come from??? No, I fear charity itself has become a business. Which is very sad because there is still such need and undoubtedly there is still integrity. Love the way your mother questioned all this! YAM xx

    1. I do think so many folk are tired of begging calls and letters and once you are aged and on a pension it is difficult to help.
      This week we had a young couple come to the front door and it took Phil about 10 minutes to find what they wanted. They were from Oxfam (a good charity we know) and finally Phil found out they wanted him to donate $! a day, a total of $365 a year. When you are on a pension that is a lot of money in a year. Obviously Phil said 'no'. Most of the people that live around here are retired so I doubt they found many accepting their 'offer'. One wonders how much of that $365 each year would find it's way to those that really need it.
      Actually re-reading the book I was quite surprised at mum's very adamant condemnation of demands for money for charity and I must admit I do agree with her.

  2. I no longer donate to any Australian based charities. The few times I did, it was a voluntary one-off thing as I had spare cash available, but for months after I was beseiged by begging letters asking for more. also I'm not convinced that enough of the donated funds goes towards helping those who need it. More than half, I'm sure goes to the administration and wages instead.
    I used to donate to a world-wide organisation involved in delivering mosquito nets, education supplies, malaria medicine etc to third world countries where the women and children are still thought of, and treated as, possessions. I had to give that up when I stopped working.
    I have an issue with television advertising from one particular charity, that uses children, who try hard to look pitiful and left out, claiming they are picked on at school or left out of playground games or falling behind in their schoolwork, all because they don't have the right uniform. From what I know, kids don't care two hoots about uniform and in public primary schools, uniforms aren't compulsory. If your child is in a private school and you can't afford the uniform, perhaps you need to get your priorities sorted before begging for charity. Put your child in a public school and save all the fee money for when your child needs it for high school uniforms.

    1. It would seem River, many of us agree with what you say about donations.
      I still crochet my rugs to donate to Vinny's which gives me pleasure and hopefully raises some cash for them (or they can use them in their nursing homes if they care to).
      I sometimes feel too many folk are crying poor when in reality they are not all that poor. It's amazing how many people say that and yet can still afford to drink and smoke. Not that we shouldn't all have small pleasures but we do have to get our priorities right before asking for help.

  3. You have to pick and choose your charities and not allow yourself to be bullied into giving more than you can afford. There are so many in need and it is so hard to say no.

    1. I think the same as you Delores and one thing that annoys me is the phone call saying "we were so grateful for your help last year" and I am not sure we actually did help last year. After all we are in the phone book so names and numbers are readily available to all.

  4. Yes, I too supported several charities when I was working but now only give to one. The others made me cross because they spent nearly all the money I gave them on printed material and postage. I specifically asked each charity to send me information via email but they insisted on sending me paper, which went to the recycle bin. Once I retired with only a pension, I severed ties with them all except one. Now I know my money is being used for its intended purpose and not for cutting down trees to make shiny brochures and postage stamps.

    1. If only some of the charities would listen to people and get their acts together we would perhaps be more amenable to their requests. You often feel you are being bombarded with please for money, money and when you don't have a lot yourself it is upsetting. I decided last year that I would say "I am very sorry. I wish I could help but we are now in out eighties and on age pensions so our days of contributing to charities are over. Thank you".