Myths about charities debunked

Special project: Welcome and The Runet, debunk charity myths


01.07.2014, Moscow


The service, Welcome Mail and the online publication, The Runet, have exposed the lack of truth surrounding various aspects of the charity sector, together with the extent to which people can really help. The subject of charity myths that are inhibiting human instincts has long been a topic of discussion within the third sector.

This special project discusses some of the most commonly-held charity myths, e.g. “Never tell anyone you’re involved in charitable work”; “Only rich people should help”; “Help should only be given to children”; “Charities take all donations themselves”; “Only money can help”; “Compassion requires dedication”; “Its best to help by transferring money to an account” (as repost); “Where your money goes”. For example, experts only advise responding to requests for help by repost in two specific cases. Firstly, if the wish is made by a person you trust implicitly, and secondly, if you fully understand the nature of the request and are prepared to ask your friends to help you. Otherwise, you could end up supporting a scam.

Experts have debunked the myth that charities take all donations themselves in the following way. If you transfer money to a particular project in order to help a specific person, these funds can only be used for their intended purpose. From little-purpose donations, i.e. money transferred to a foundation where no addressee is indicated, a charity can use no more than 20% for administrative expenses.

Charity should be given to adults as well as children, according to one aspect of the special project. Children’s charity funds cannot help adults, neither can elderly parents provide any financial support.

“The aim of our joint project was to dispel certain myths in pictures and by using simple language to let people know that, for example, 25% of internet users would help if they knew that their friends were involved in charitable work. Helping is the joy that can be shared with friends” says Alexandra Babkina, head of the Welcome project.

“The Internet is a totally unique medium. Everyone knows that it provides easy access to news, as well as being a means for making purchases and acquiring knowledge. However, not many people realise that using the Internet is also a very convenient way of getting involved in charity. Our involvement in the special project with Welcome has allowed us to remind people that doing good deeds isn’t difficult”, said Konstantin Beniumov, editor-in-chief of The Runet. To learn more about the myths and truths surrounding charitable work, please visit our project “Myths about charity” page.

Tatiana Tulchinsky, Director of the charity “Here and Now” highlighted seven charity myths in 2006, with her thoughts widely published in the media. She has contributed a few misconceptions to the myth that only those with lots of money should help and that their identity remains anonymous, e.g. charity is only given by those who wish to atone for their sins.

“Indeed, it is often the way that someone who performs a good deed is guided not so much by the desire to help their fellow human being, but rather to be somehow indulged for their actions. This in no way because he or she has committed an unworthy act during their lives. They are simply people who, as part of their own personal reciprocal arrangement with the world, are conveying a positive message that their lives have turned out more successfully than others. They shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying a better way of life, but rather regard the opportunity of helping people not as a duty, but as a way of making their mark in life”, said Tulchinsky in one of her articles.

Tulchinsky also debunks the myth that charity in society only exists because Government are reluctant to discharge their direct responsibilities in this area. “Charity work is as much associated with the State as it is to civil society. In reality, it embraces those areas which are not readily accessible to the State. The latter can provide rare and expensive medicine for a sick child, but cannot sit beside them on a bed, nor hold their hand when they’re ill and frightened about undergoing chemotherapy. Only we, as individuals, can do that”.

Olga Alekseeva was particularly aware of the issue of myth creation in the charity world. Olga was one of Russia’s leading experts on the country’s NGO sector as head of Charity Aid Foundation – Russia, as well as working for CAF in London. She passed away in 2011 aged just 42.

Olga wrote “There are no special reasons for getting involved in charity work. Many people working for charities take risks for the sake of others, while not being able to explain exactly what they’re doing and why. The idea of charity really got to me, after which I realised that “I can and want to help”. So the step from “being moved to act” to “I can and I want to help” is a positive move towards charity”.

Author: Yulia Vyatkina

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