It seems that charitable giving is on the increase. I don't think this is because we're any more cash-rich than we used to be, but more likely because it's easier to give. JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving, and so on make sponsoring someone to do something difficult, crazy or both, quick and easy. The problem here is that once you've paid there's no guaranteee that the person you're sponsoring is going to complete the event they've asked you to support. Terrible!
I know, we don't really mind. We contribute to offer support and, perhaps, motivation to the person we're sponsoring, and, although we fully expect them to run a marathon dressed as a cabbage, or go to work dressed as a character from Family Guy, we're happy enough that they've made it to the start line - the hardest part of the journey.
Then Owen at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research had an idea and Pledgeit was born, turning fund-raising on its head. Awesome.
Rather than waiting for a friend or colleague to come to you with something they've chosen to do, you can find something that you've chosen for them. The best part? If they don't complete the challenge to your own, no doubt exacting standards, no one pays up. Awesomer. Just kidding - it's not awesome if you don't have to pay-up. Shame on you.
So, who are you going to challenge? You can pick something daft, like persuading Matty, Charlie, Ashley and Tom to shave their heads, something exciting by gently nudging Ann to write her memoirs, or even showing Naomi that she can do things she thought she couldn't.
Supporting Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, for me, is a no-brainer. During the last three years two people close to me have been diagnosed with types of blood cancer, one with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and one with myeloma. It's an unbelievably awful position to be in. While there's no way I can fully understand how it must feel to be told, "It's cancer", I assure you that while you sit in the corner of an consultant's office watching someone receive that news you will be overwhelmed by the sense of utter helplessness that rocks up to you, shouts in your face and then hits you with your own shoes. But you're not helpless. There's a lot you can do, and most of it will go unnoticed by all but those who are close to you.
Pledgeit helps me feel that, in a very small way, I'm doing something to help people who've been in the position I was in a few years ago. Charities like Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and especially the people who work for and support them, are not just there to help those who've been diagnosed. They're helping everyone - it's just that most people don't know that they're being helped yet.
I've been present during chemotherapy sessions, given anti-sickness injections, cut my girlfriend's hair* during her treatment (with permission, of course), watched an ambulance 999 my dad to University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff, and a whole lot more. It's horrible. Every incoming phone call puts me on edge; every visit to my girlfriend's oncologist for her annual follow-ups leaves me cold during the hours leading up to the appointment. There's not much I wouldn't do to stop someone else going through that. It changes you; in some ways it makes you better.
There's a one in three chance you'll have some sort of cancer at some point in your life. For men, if you haven't had prostate cancer yet you've probably not lived long enough. If someone you know is diagnosed with leukaemia they may have as little as two weeks.
The simple fact is that we can't support all the charities that we'd like to. If we did, we'd all be broke. As someone said to me this week, even if you've got just a little bit more than someone else, you've got something to give. If you gave that little something to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research you might be unlucky enough to get it back.
* I'm a rubbish hairdresser. I can only do one style, and it's not particularly good. Actually, it's dreadful.
This blog entry was originally published by Hywel on his own website and is republished here by kind permission.