This is in response to Andrew MacDonald’s letter, entitled ‘Do not ignore worthy charities’.
He suggests that those who support animal charities instead of charities striving to alleviate human suffering need to re-evaluate the direction of their moral compass. I do not think it is a question of morality – for that suggests supporting only certain causes is morally ‘right’, inviting arrogance where greater open-mindedness is needed.
I concede that animal charities have one up on some others; the animal suffering often depicted in these charities’ advertising stimulates a particularly strong sympathetic response in many people.
But that does not diminish the worthiness of the cause or people’s support for it.
Cancer is something we all fear. Without a doubt, we all know of someone who has been affected. It follows that cancer charities understandably receive a massive amount of money from countless donors who, directly or indirectly, have been affected by cancer.
I previously worked for a charity supporting people with eating disorders (note: my salary was grant- funded). Promoting understanding was a battle against misconceptions – often the result of media misrepresentation – so donations were typically from those personally affected.
Knowing the severity, prevalence and mortality rates, and having known someone who died of complications arising from an eating disorder, of course I wanted to encourage donations. But should I judge those who instead choose to contribute to non-humanitarian causes about which they feel more strongly?
What of those who choose not to give at all – are they to be judged?
Charitable giving is a choice. Individuals and causes championed by charities benefit not just from monetary donors, but volunteers and all those who feel passionate about making an equally valid contribution to organisations set up to variously and incrementally improve the world we live in.