Nowadays, charity work is being evaluated more and more by it’s impact rather than numerical statistics such as how much money is being raised/used or how people are reached. The social impact of charity can be measured by the long-term changes caused by its activities – e.g. the consequences in the lives of its beneficiaries, and the wider causal effects on their families or society in general.
Charitable fundraising events are tremendously important and valuable, not only because the money each event can raise, but also the wide-spread awareness they create for their causes. Even so, the impact evaluation of these events often fails to take into account some crucial consequences. Some of these are positive – fundraising events can often have fantastic social impacts, connecting communities and bringing both organisers and attendees together in fun and engaging ways.
However, there are also negative consequences of these events which often go unmentioned. Events will always create a certain amount of waste and require the use of transportation and resources that could have been utilised elsewhere. Charities organising mass events such as marathons or other outdoor activities will usually have recycling partners to collect waste but this does not change the volume of waste generated, or the fact that most of it is non-reusable.
Every year we run in pink to help fight cancer, but we must balance the awareness and funds raised against the environmental impact. Tons of pink plastic accessories, tutus and t-shirts that are flown from the other side of the planet and are often used once and the discarded. Just one shirt being reused saves the cost of another shirt being produced, for more information on the true impact of this – check out this Huffington Post article.
Charity shops already provide an invaluable service in our society, with each shop diverting an average of 30 tonnes of textiles from landfill every year. Perhaps a way to counter the negative environmental impacts of charity events could be found through closer collaboration with these shops. Regardless of it’s own mission, each one could have a ‘pink corner’ for example, for all the enthusiastic fundraisers fighting the big beast in our society.
Pink has become such a powerful colour, it’s power should reach our environment too.
The whatCharity team