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How do we decide which charities to donate to? And how much should we be giving?

This comes as a lovely lady called at my door this evening. It’s all calculated. They time it well. Dinner time, lights on, someone home.

Only I know how much this household gives to charity on a monthly basis. And I’m counting money buckets in the street, a standing order to another charity, clothes donations to shops and charity shop purchases. Yet still I feel mean saying no.

So another plea for a worthwhile cause has to get a ‘no’ from me. How can I say no and still feel good? I can’t.

I admit I’ve been deceptive in the past. I began using a line. It worked and on top of that I got thanks and gratitude from the charity official.

“Oh, I already donate regularly to (fill in any number of charity organisations.)”

“Oh then you’re a hero. Thank you for your support. It means a lot to our fundraisers…”

That felt terrible. I was almost tempted to get the chap wearing the Hi-vis jacket and kind expression to go on thanking me. I maintained a hallowed silence in the expectation that he’d continue thanking me.

But, but, but… I’m a great help to your charity aren’t I? You love people like me. I’m a good citizen and you love me. You wish there were more like me, you like me don’t you, I’m a good girl aren’t I?

He’d done being grateful.

Sure, they play on our guilt and expect us to feel wretched when we refuse.

“Two pounds a month… less than a Happy Meal… Less than 50p a day… as little as £1 a week….”

OK, I can add up. Don’t do it by the day sonny, tell me you want between £48 and £730 a year.

That would assuage my guilt at least. “I can’t afford that!” That’s why they do it by the week. And we’re supposed to think to ourselves, ‘well… I did just spend £2.50 on makeup brushes I won’t use…’

 I can’t feel good about saying no even with their clever tactics.

I don’t expect to give nothing. I accept it’s a sort of friendly tax. The government may squeeze money from me for weapons; at least I can choose whether to help kittens or the deaf.

I need a way of stating that I’m overstretched on my charity donations. Maybe a card like an organ donor card. ‘This is to certify that I donate equal amounts each month to…’ and I could just present this to anyone asking for money.

No, the answer is in being self-assured in the knowledge that I really am good enough and give as much as I can without threatening the welfare of my household or my family.

I think the old ‘stuck record’ approach should work: repetition. ‘I can’t. I’m sorry I can’t. No, I can’t…’

I’ll let you know how I get on.

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