Our Charities: How Charitable Are They?

I was recently invited to write an article on ‘service to others’ for my yoga organisation’s magazine. This led me to ponder on what ‘service’ means. For me, and I suspect for many, the idea of ‘service’ is tied in with charities – either doing voluntary work for charities, or giving them money.

When I looked around me at the main charities in New Zealand and the public events they run/sponsor, or are run in their name to raise money, such as the ‘Ride to Conquer Cancer’ (a two day cycle ride to benefit the Cancer Society), ‘Fit for Life’ (a boxing event between celebrity non-boxers, to raise money for nominated charities) and raffles (Heart Foundation), I began to wonder what ‘service’ they were actually offering to the world and started to ask myself the following questions:

  • Is it “true service” to sponsor an event that asks participants to cycle for two whole days, camping on the ground overnight?
  • Is it “true service” to ask people to box who are not professional boxers, even setting aside the known dangers of boxing?
  • Is it “true service” to encourage people to gamble?

It appeared to me that many of the events run by our charities could be putting people’s bodies and minds at risk!

For example, if I feel a certain charity is doing amazing work in the area of health and I want to support it by organising a fund-raising event, would I organise a cycle or running race that I know will compromise the bodies of those racing: in other words, that would be detrimental to their health? Would the purpose of raising money be enough to compensate for the harm to the participants in the race?

Is it “true service” to give money to charities?

There are many statistics that point to the huge amount of money going into administration of our charities, e.g. large CEO salaries, plus staff salaries, travel expenses and office expenses. Sometimes I understand these expenses take up 85% of the money coming in! Plus, the bigger charities now often engage consultants to fund-raise for them and I understand these consultants take 50% of the money raised! Therefore, if I donate money to charities, how much of this money would actually go to people in need?

Is it possible that our charities are not as charitable as we think they are? Is it possible that the current charity business model is a band-aid fix?

Why do people volunteer to work for charities? What is their motive for doing so? Could it be for:

  • Recognition (many do indeed receive medals or honours);
  • From boredom or a feeling of being unfulfilled;
  • Out of guilt, feeling they have in the past gained at another’s expense;
  • From a desire to “do good”; or perhaps
  • From a need to please others?

It feels to me that to truly serve, first of all I have to be aware of what my intentions are. Through presentations offered by Serge Benhayon, founder of Universal Medicine, I have experienced that true service must first start with self-love and self-responsibility i.e. I must be the love I would like the world to be.

As “Everything is energy and everything is because of energy” (Serge Benhayon), perhaps we first have to change the energy in which we approach service to others, as change can only come about if those serving inspire others, through the quality of their service.

This feels important because, if I am trying to “please others” or “do good” as my initial intention, this is not truly making it about serving humanity, but rather about self-gain and, in the words of Isaac Newton, “for every force/action, there is an equal and opposite force/reaction” – therefore the energy is never truly changing and we are left stuck on the same merry-go-round of problems, and solutions that are only ever temporary band-aids.

And hence, is giving money and clothes to those in need enough?

If it was, then the trillions of dollars that have been poured into Africa, through charities and governments, since the end of European colonisation would have made a bigger difference to the lives of African people. There is still much poverty and hardship in most African countries.

It is clear we need another way to serve those in need, perhaps one that would empower the people who we are aiming to serve, rather than treating them as a ‘charity case’? This way perhaps they would be able to make true and lasting change, so that eventually they would not need the charity of others.

Empowering those in need could look like the following… Maybe I am an awesome organiser and could share ways to be organised and ordered, in a loving way, without any judgement of how others live? Or perhaps I have the ability to teach (present) skills and behaviours and support others by truly connecting to them, listening to them without judgement, accepting where they are at, and supporting them to re-connect to their true selves, knowing that they are equal to me in every way and that their very essence (their core/centre) is simply love, which could perhaps inspire them to make changes to their behaviours and routines that are more supportive for them?

What if we, and our charities, were to first focus on what our intention was in carrying out the object of the charity, what skills we could bring to the service to others, and whether we were carrying out that purpose and using those skills with true love for all of humanity?

Would this then not be true service and therefore true charity?

Inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine.

By Anne Scott, Lifestyle Consultant, Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and Mediator, Auckland

Further Reading:
Charities exposed for Cold-calling: What is True Charity?
College of Universal Medicine: A World First Volunteer Model
Universal Medicine – People’s Choice Award: True Service, True Business Model & About People

877 thoughts on “Our Charities: How Charitable Are They?

  1. Sounds more real to me Anne. I don’t understand the charity events myself…they feel like a huge contradiction to me.

  2. It can be quite controversial to question how charitable a charity truly is as they are seen to be at least intending to ‘do good’ but I think it is important to truly consider what the activity and intent of a charity is – not through trying to undermine the work that people do but through being very honest with ourselves about what energy is behind the work and what effect that is having on people so that we can assess if it is truly helping and assisting people to evolve…

  3. We have been made to believe that service is a doing or an act that requires us to give either time or money to those in need when in truth service is about responsibility for ourselves in the way we live, the quality of our movements, the intention behind our actions and offering this reflection of living to those around us, for how can we change the world if there is no true inspiration for all?

  4. When charities start cold calling people in an attempt to raise money, we need to ask ourselves are they still acting as a charity? When 85% of the money they raise goes towards their business, how then are they serving the community and is serving the community their primary goal?

  5. When we give money to a charity we think we are supporting that cause and those who are in need – but we need to see how most (if not all) of the problems in the world are age old or the same thing being reproduced with variations, and as a species we have not been able to choose a way of living that would arrest that cycle of recreating the same scenario over and over and over, and care for others as our absolute equal with no investment in outcome whatsoever.

  6. Charity-giving is often a way for people to feel better – and less guilt-ridden about the fortunate lives they have in comparison. It is all about doing ‘good’. Charities have recently been in the news in the UK, on account of cold-calling and even duping people into giving. Just how much of the money gifted goes to the actual people in need, when salaries, advertising etc are taken into account? .

  7. “It is clear we need another way to serve those in need, perhaps one that would empower the people who we are aiming to serve, rather than treating them as a ‘charity case’? This way perhaps they would be able to make true and lasting change, so that eventually they would not need the charity of others.” Yes indeed, for example enabling farmers etc to grow food from seed, or enabling people to start a small business – maybe raising chickens etc – rather than just giving food – year after year. Enabling people to feel empowered, rather than relying on hand-outs, and stopping dependency.

  8. When I was younger I always thought that charities were evil, I had a feeling that they pretend to be nice just so that people feel good about themselves, now the more I grow up, I realise that I was actually very accurate in my assessment!

  9. I feel that charities are not all they are cracked up to be – it is easy to jump on a bandwagon, get all enthusiastic and feel the relief that it brings when doing ‘good’, but as you say, a lot of the money raised goes into salaries and associated admin expenses and on top of that, people’s motivations are not always clear; they can range from guilt to ticking boxes to looking for something to do. And even though that may be applauded by some, it might not be what true service is about.

  10. I love that the corruption in ‘charity’, along with the unloving motives that abound are getting more and more exposed… for there are many genuine people in need of true support that are being denied this through the current structure we have allowed to be the model in place that is at the expense of true service.

  11. It is very true, we have to understand why we are doing what we are doing. I feel there is a very clear mutual benefit with volunteers. I am a regular volunteer in many organisations and I equally work with and manage volunteers. In both cases I can see how we can benefit from the practical experience, the time and work ethic commitment and respecting that just because I am not being paid there is no less focus on commitment, the comeraderie and the relationships. At the root of it all there has to be integrity in the charity though.

  12. I volunteer for a charity two days a week and in the last six months or so we have had several changes, they all seem to be heading toward commercialism and the standard of quality of care has certainly dropped. This means conversations bringing up the points you have shared here are quite frequent now. I see this as a welcome step and an opportunity for all of us to look more closely at what we are doing and why.

  13. Great post Anne, you raise so many questions about how charitable are charities truly. I find it amazing how many charities expect people to walk, cycle or run and push their bodies to unusual lengths. All done for a charitable ’cause’. Equally, fund-raising coffee mornings – fuel the participants with caffeine and cakes chock full of sugar. Neither of these practices support the avoidance of cancer, when we are advised to avoid stress and reduce sugar consumption, which feeds cancer growth.

  14. “What if we, and our charities, were to first focus on what our intention was in carrying out the object of the charity, what skills we could bring to the service to others, and whether we were carrying out that purpose and using those skills with true love for all of humanity?” – this has recently been seen with how Michael Benhayon and Miranda Benhayon produced a song for the support of raising funds for local businesses in Lismore after the Lismore Flood that happened recently in March/April 2017. They were joined by Clayton Lloyd with his filming and made a video combined with the song that has been instrumental (pun unintended) in supporting with donations for people who have lost everything in this disaster. This is a perfect example of using our skills and time to support a community to re-build itself and feel empowered in doing so. There are many more that have assisted as able bodied people with the clean up of the town once the waters receded. Amazing to see how true service can really bring the support people need!

  15. I once worked for a charity and the way employees were treated was very uncharitable- going against the core value that the organisation said that they stood for. If we do not live what we say we provide as a service then in truth we do not offer the service we say we do.

  16. Thank you Anne – it may not be a popular thing to question the intention behind what we’re doing when it is seemingly for the benefit of others but I do think we need to be willing to ask these deeper questions of ourselves, not from place of doubting what we do but being truly honest about the energy that comes with what we’re doing. And when it feels like it is truly to assist others then great and let’s appreciate that and when actually it’s not let’s be equally as honest about that.

  17. A much needed conversation about charity – and how charity truly contributes to the world today. Whilst we have breast cancer charities, cancer charities, diabetes charities and so on, during these last few decades these conditions – cancer, diabetes are still sky rocketing, and whilst people are living longer, we have a world where multiple long term conditions is becoming the norm with some people with up to 9 long term medical conditions. So where has charity, which includes the research charities fund and organise, the fundraising to support people with the conditions and so on, truly supported the world so that we can start to see even the tiniest of turn around with those conditions?

  18. This is a really interesting breakdown and conversation to be had about the true activity of charities, and whether our contribution to ‘doing good’ is really doing ourselves or those we’re donating to much good at all! Of course there is a way to give back to communities and support humanity through charitable work, but perhaps our current models of charity are missing a trick in regards to remembering that it’s about people first and foremost, including the people doing activities/fundraisers for charity AND the CEOs and businessmen behind the scenes. We can’t simply give money or run a marathon and give ourselves a gold star; everything thereafter and behind the scenes matters.

  19. It is so true Anne. Money and clothes, although granted helpful in some cases to a point, are mostly not the answer or offer the true support needed. The greatest support we can offer each other is to meet and hold another in the equal great love that they are, and offering guidance and support so that we can be more aware of and take responsibility for the choices we are making, supporting and empowering each other to be more love. For it is empowering to realise that we are the ones that make the choices that determine the degree of our love in our lives.

  20. The sympathy that is going around in charities is harming for everyone, your questions are there for very needed to bring an awareness of what is truly going on. Every charity has to come from the knowing that we are all equal regardless how our circumstances in life are and from an observation what is true service in any situation.

  21. True charity can only come when we are living our lives in connection and thus reflecting that to others, in this way we can empower others to make truer choices for themselves in the knowing that they are best placed to feel that for themselves.

  22. This is a great exposure of how the intentions behind so many charities are not about true service and therefore it is not surprising that there has been so little positive effect, for example, in Africa. It is only when we are willing to examine our motives for giving to charity, both money and time, that we can start to look at how we can truly support others rather than using it to feel good about ourselves. Feels like this is a trap to keep us away from brotherhood as there is no equality in charity just people imposing on others what they have judged is needed.

  23. ‘I must be the love I would like the world to be.’ Yes, agreed Anne. The endless solutions offered by the multitude of causes, charities, programs and projects are in effect just surface solutions – the overall trajectory mankind is on is, despite these interventions, is a downward one. Like you, I have been inspired by the teachings of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine and know that I can effect true change simply by living a different way – one that others can see and feel and be similarly inspired by. Change, one person at a time.

  24. Charities increasingly need to hang their product on an eye-catching hook to achieve ‘cut through’ in an increasingly crowded market place, just like businesses with a commercial focus. Hence the increasingly incongruous and disturbing pairings of cause and event. Raising funds and or awareness is big business these days and yes, ironically, anything goes, despite the caring persona the charitable sector likes to project. Promoting brutality in order to raise support seems a step way too far though.

  25. “What if we, and our charities, were to first focus on what our intention was in carrying out the object of the charity, what skills we could bring to the service to others, and whether we were carrying out that purpose and using those skills with true love for all of humanity?” Beautifully said Anne. Since learning about the inner workings of many charities I have become very cynical about their true worth – and have rescinded many of my regular donations. I now volunteer my time instead – no cash involved.

  26. I think we need this way of “helping others” so that we feel that we do something for humanity. I would say that it’s hard to know how to truly help another when our own lives aren’t such a pretty picture. I think most of the times the ones we try to help would be better off if we weren’t there actually.

  27. Giving to charity is regarded as ‘a good thing’ to do in society today. The reason so many people do so is to assuage their guilt for having a better life – and often to look good. What is the quality of our donation when we give from sympathy – let alone knowing that very little of our cash actually reaches the true recipient- after the payment of high wages to the CEOs and the corruption along the route. What are the ethical principles upheld by most charities? Do they even have them?

  28. True charity should be something you live, and not just something you give to in order to make yourself feel better, or to appease your sense of dis-ease that comes from having dedicated your whole life to your own.

  29. Empowering each person to live in the essence they are is the clear true charity our world has needed for eons. Much has to change for this to become an accepted way, as not only those in need of charity abuse it, as this article explores personal investments in offering charities support is keeping the system stuck in the energy of saviour and victim.

  30. Without self-love and self-responsibility how can it be possible to truly serve? I know that when I have felt agitated and reactive it has felt horrible but worse still I have tried to cover it up and pretended to be nice. I question how much of this emotional behaviour goes on in doing charity work.

  31. We can examine our relationship with charity, not just in regards to established ‘charities’ and their activities, but also in the way that we relate to each other. When I offer a ‘helping hand’ to another, and see them as less than equal to me, needing of ‘me’ in order to affect some change in their life, then I am in the illusion of false charity. This can occur in a myriad of ways in our every day, if we are but willing to truly see…
    When I offer assistance, from the foundational knowing that my fellow brother has every capacity equal to me, then that is a very different intent and also, activity and relationship that then may ensue.

  32. We have set up a paradigm for ‘charity’ that appears to give us a ‘pay off’. If I buy that raffle ticket, or donate to that cause, I am offered a momentary ‘feel good’ moment. “I’ve now done my bit.”
    What you have exposed here Anne, is that this is completely illusionary in terms of ‘doing our bit’, if by our own living way, we do not represent the change that would truly serve another.
    The endemic corruption in charity, along with fundamentally obvious lack of any true inspired change engendered in so many cases, needs to be seen for what it is: a ‘feel good moment’ that has justified itself so brilliantly, that few dare to question the foundation upon which it rests.

    1. Well said Victoria. That feel good moment is a bluff, a sleight of hand distraction that stops us from feeling the foundational energy that Charities are based on. There is always that little ‘thing’ given to us to fluff up our feathers, whether it be a ‘ball’ in aid of the charity, a prize for entering, or even just the little ‘feel good’ moment which disguises what the charity actually feels like and is based on, and quells the deep unease we carry continually because we have stepped away from our divinity.

  33. Anne Scot, amazing question simply because what we put in , will come out.. And so if we come from sympathy (which is a judgement) we are not coming from understanding or love of why people are in a certain situation. It is super interesting to see beyond what we can see and feel deeper into why things occur, so we can truly heal and support others to heal.. And no longer come from these images, ideals and judgements that only hold us away from truly evolving!

  34. Its very exposing that charities are not all that good they are made out to be, yet few people want to hear that charities don’t work as it is a handy way to think we are doing good for a cause, often one close to our hearts. Yet I love the idea that we can be charitable by supporting others with the qualities we each have. So if we have a particular skill or personality trait then sharing that with others is a real contribution to a better more highly functioning society.

  35. This is a brilliant question Anne “What if we, and our charities, were to first focus on what our intention was in carrying out the object of the charity, what skills we could bring to the service to others, and whether we were carrying out that purpose and using those skills with true love for all of humanity? We need to stop and fully appreciate and understand the fact that we have all been given the gift of eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand.

  36. An awesome blog Anne and you raise some great points around what true charity is, for us to consider more deeply. I met a man many years ago who worked closely with a well-known charity, he exposed to me how much of the money wasn’t really spent where it was needed, that a great deal of the money went on admin costs and providing many company members with luxurious cars. After this I began to realise that charity begins in my own backyard, by beginning to live in a more responsible and loving way I can offer support and inspiration that extends far greater and positively affects those around me more than donating to any charity.

  37. Charity seems to be one of those untouchable things we don’t question, like the image of Mother Theresa, yet as you point out the acts of charities may ignore much greater and vital truths, like what is the underlying intention truly, and are they disempowering or empowering those they claim to serve? It’s possible that under the assumption of “doing good” we can miss the lack of true integrity.

  38. You have shared some brilliant points here Anne and it really brings a greater understanding of true service and charity. The way we live plays a big role in the quality we hold in whatever we do and how we move. Our true inspiration lies in the quality of our living way. By lovingly supporting ourselves we can in turn support another to move forward and share more inspiration and experiences too, the flow on effect is magic.

  39. As I read this blog I had the feeling that true charity is a way of living rather than a list of charitable acts and donations etc. When we live true charity we are reflecting a self-loving and self-empowering way of being in this life, and that is worth its weight in gold when it inspires others to make similar choices. I am the man I am today because of another man who lives ‘true charity’ and who inspired me to choose that way for myself. He is Serge Benhayon – a man who epitomises true charity in every way.

  40. A great point you raise here Anne. Are we engaging in a charities for self, for the need to ‘feel good’ or be good, or to receive recognition? Or does it come from a place of Love, humbleness and deep care for the well-being of humanity, so that what is shared is in support of another to evolve and be the Love they are.

  41. Is it “true service” to give money to charities? A great question Anne, a question we need to ask ourselves whenever we are asked to give money, goods or services to charities; large, small, formal or informal. Another vital question is what is our intention and motive behind the giving, indeed what are we giving?
    Lots to ponder on here Anne.

  42. I find the movie ‘Gabriel’ is a great example of what is true service and what is not. In the movie the angels who have come to earth to be of service to mankind all give up or fall a false version of service. The angel who runs a soup kitchen claims that at least he is doing something to help, yet what he is doing changes nothing. As Gabriel comments, the soup kitchen is nothing compared to what we came here to do, to bring light back for mankind in dark times.

  43. I recently had a guy come door knocking for a charity. After he finished telling me about what they do and the effect this has had, I said that I don’t donate to charities. He didn’t seem surprised by this and asked if it was because charities are so wasteful with money. He said that a lot of people have now become aware that a big percentage of donations go to administration. It’s great that we are becoming aware of these practical facts but for most of us, I think we are still pretty sold on people doing good and helping others. It was not until I started to feel the energy behind ‘good’ that I realised that it doesn’t actually change or heal the underlying cause for anyone.

  44. I love your questioning around the true nature of charities. We seem to go along with anything if it has this word in it! There is a sudden dropping of values, a sympathy creeps in and we go along with the charitable thing to do. Yesterday I read about a cancer charity running a tea party and encouraging all to eat cake. The cakes that were being advertised in a cafe nearby were loaded with sugar and there was a large green tick next to each one as if to say it’s ok to eat what you like when it is done in the name of charity. What service does this briing if we are encouraging others in this kind of lifestyle?

  45. What if instead of donating money to charities we used that money for our own self care? Is this selfish or is it responsible? It is not more responsible to take care of ourselves so that we present to the world a body that is capable of truly serving – offering a reflection to which others can be inspired? Of course when you have ample money there are responsible choices but responsible choices do not always mean throwing money at something.

  46. To me there has always been an irony in charities asking for money through events which, quite honestly, knock the stuffing out of their participants! It just shows to me the absurdity in the glorification of punishing our bodies because we feel like we get recognition out of doing something ‘good’! What ‘good’ are we actually doing, and what ‘good’ can come out of self disregard?

  47. I have always been skeptical about giving money to charities as I don’t trust the money always gets to those that need it. The point you make about how we throw ourselves into grueling events to raise money is a good one.

  48. It’s a great reminder that I get from reading this – And that is we think we want or need to do good in this world but the greatest good would be to just be ourselves since everyone of us has so much to give by just being ourselves. We all have unique qualities that others could benefit from.

  49. There is a lot to think about here, Anne, as there are so many ideals and beliefs about charity and the “do gooding” associated with it. I love the point you make about how we often abuse our bodies in “charity” events to raise money for others who are also often living in a state of self abuse. This does not make any sense!

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