A terrible tragedy occurred when a lovely young woman collapsed and died towards the end of the London Marathon last weekend. She had entered in order to raise funds for the Samaritans. In consequence, about £700,000 has been donated in her memory by members of the public to this good cause. This is a great benefit to the Samaritans (and, one hopes, a small consolation to her parents), but obviously we would all rather have this young woman alive than any amount of money. A good friend of mine died many years ago on a sponsored cycle ride for a children’s charity. He was a most distinguished paediatrician and his loss left a gap in the medical profession and of course in his family that could never be filled.
So I remain puzzled as to why those who wish to raise money for charity do so by undertaking completely pointless activities, such as running, swimming or trekking long distances overseas. I cannot see why we should give money to charity so that they can do something they want to do anyway, which is of no benefit to anyone else. I prefer to donate direct to the charity, if asked by a friend, and not link my donation to the activity they are undertaking, especially if it is risky to health. I have sometimes suggested that they might prefer to do something useful, like chores for elderly neighbours, if they want sponsorship, (remember bob a job?) but they prefer doing what they enjoy.
Contrast with that the current nomination list for the annual Dods Parliamentary Charity Champion Award – http://www.charitychampionawards.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=16. The nominees have actually undertaken an activity for their favoured charity. The runners and the activists equally have hearts of gold and the best intentions, but how much more sensible to act to make a difference to your chosen charity or your community.