I spent yesterday fundraising. Standing behind a stall in the foyer of where I work trying to coach my share of my colleagues’ spare cash from their pockets in favour of one of my new favourite causes. To my left, behind his stall, was a man who had survived spinal surgery and was raising funds for spinal research. To my right was another stall in honour of a colleague who is currently fighting cancer. Beyond them – Alzheimers; beyond them a local carer’s group and beyond them, Guide Dogs for the Blind. The gentleness of the golden Labradors eliciting an “aah” at every turn.
We were organising a bottle tombola, tapping into the nation’s psyche for cheap alcohol, a sale of some excellent photography by a friend of ours, and a cake for Halloween of awesome design and execution.
Apart from Guide Dogs for the Blind, who don’t need any hook when there is huge cuteness on their side, we all had one thing in common – cake ! No Cuteness ? – Try cake.
I was delighted with our result and the addition of a couple of hundred quid to the coffers means we have reached our first £1000 for our charity, Chaithanya Orphanage UK, and we can now make our first transfer to our friends and colleagues in India.
On reflection now, after having spent the summer fundraising and trying to get this off the ground, it seems we have embarked upon a long, challenging, but rewarding journey – and we share that experience with all those others around us who have their favourite charitable causes and are prepared to put some time in to help.It may seem competitive in these situations but I haven’t found that. I have found everyone to be supportive of each other and wishing each other well.
We have faced some particular hurdles. Being linked with an Indian charity immediately places in front of us the hurdle of credibility. With Indians too, who know only too well of the opportunity for corruption in their homeland and the siphoning off of any charitable funds raised. We have yet to leap the red tape hurdle with the taxman and obtain our HMRC charity number. Our first attempt was batted back with all the aplomb of a six from Tendulka. “Get it right,” said the Bowler Hat. Fair enough, we try again.
There are reams to read. There is legislation to obey. There is accountability and accounts, for heavens sake.
And then, having raised funds, you have a duty to see that they are used as you intend them to be, and again, to be accountable.
But we will do it. We will overcome these hurdles and set Chaithanya Orphanage UK on the charity agenda. Because for all the struggles with perceptions and red tape and accepting accountability we have now got to the point where we can cover the costs of two children for a year. And though they are thousands of miles away we know they are directly close and that the money we have raised is going directly into the care of these children. No middleman. No corruption. No siphoning. We are making a small difference – and that is the reward for endless cake.