I find comfort in that we humans are hardwired to help others. All the baddies like injustice, random catastrophes, selfishness are fought with this superpower of kindness, charity, compassion. Giving something of your own, your input and not expecting anything in return gives many individuals a sense of meaning and purpose. We humans are all for connection and can change the world when using this connectivity for good.
The definition of charity can mean different things to different people. The type of generosity a person bestows is related to personal traits, their life situation, cultural heritage and circumstances. We at whatCharity.com have carried out extensive research amongst charities, companies and individuals about their charitable activities and views on charity. This has given us an opportunity to dive into the amazing, infinite world of charitable activism.
Just a while ago we interviewed people on the streets of London about their ideas and perceptions of the meaning of charity. The answers were all a little different but there seemed to be a common theme. As people we tend to share the common idea of the importance and willingness to help strangers, give to those who have less than you do and take part in our communities.
I have thought about compassion and helping others a lot in my life as the help me and family have received have made all the difference. I have severely disabled sister whose caretaking at home was sometimes hard and made my mum leave her career and business, with both of my parents eventually changing their careers. This meant a true change in our lives when they retrained, which caused additional financial strain. A charity supporting families like us played a big role in getting peer to peer support and advice for my parents to cope with the bureaucracy when it came to social services, financial support and education to my sister. It was great for me to meet other siblings from disabled families, simply to realise I was not alone and not somewhat flawed as some might have thought back then in the 70´s and 80´s. Times have changed really changed when it come to people´s attitudes and prejudice. How much of this is due to the great work of charities, one can only guess.
Some support I have personally received has come from surprising sources. These weren’t traditional charitable activities, but acts of kindness and consideration from people who could empathise with the situations I was in e.g. when I divorced and spent some of the big holiday seasons alone with my kids, we got invitations to parties and activities from people who were not so close to us. Someone just saw beyond inviting only “happy couples with the perfect family” façade. I thought this was a big gesture of kindness.
Or when setting up my own fundraising charity 15 years ago, we got 50 business professionals, mostly unknown to us before, joining our membership based organisation without a hesitation and rolling up their sleeves to build a successful, impactful operation which is still going strong.
Whether it is helping via a registered charity, helping a random stranger, donating money, goods, skills or volunteering to simply being there for someone, it is a meaningful act. Every charitable gesture, big or small, adds to the superpower of good.
“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” – Plato