Public becoming selective about donating to charities but we have open hearts when it comes to individuals in need
Many people will have been disturbed by the recent revelation that fewer people in Northern Ireland are donating to charities.
Some 10% fewer people are donating and one of the main reasons is the lack of trust felt by the general public, though the current economic situation may be a factor.
Northern Ireland people have a reputation for being generous to charities, and the totals are comparatively higher here than in other parts of the United Kingdom.
The drop in donations to some well-known official charities suggests, at first glance, that we are losing our reputation for generosity.
This is only one side to the story. The details of donations being given to individuals including Andrea Hobot, Kevin Carey and Andrew Gill, as well as Aundrea Bannatyne, would suggest that money is still pouring in for people who need help. For example £160,000 has been raised in two days for Kevin who is battling an aggressive brain tumour. It may be a truer picture that, rather than developing a miserly streak, Ulster people are simply exercising the sort of innate common sense and judgment which they are renowned for.
Perhaps they are wary of giving to some established charities if they suspect that too much of their money is going to wages and administration. If this is true, it poses serious challenges for charities, who need to demonstrate a balance between raising necessary donations and still reassuring the public that they are not simply acting like other businesses. The fact remains that Northern Ireland people have long shown an open-heartedness to those in trouble. What is abundantly clear, is that when it comes to very human stories of people under pressure, the public here gives generously and in doing so people cut through all the old stereotypes.
If anything, we are probably more generous than ever, but are just giving differently. We should also be aware of the dangers of social media, but it has a positive side in that the need for funding is spread widely in super-quick time.