What Does “Charity” Mean To You?

When I was interviewed for the job I started a few months ago, I think one of the questions touched on why I was interested in a part time role and where I see myself in five years. In my reply, I mentioned that since I was sixteen years old, my priority has been the work I have done for registered charities, and that although my activity is unpaid I consider it my career.

By the time I started the job, it seemed as if the whole department had heard I worked for charities. But since that time, I have received so may odd comments about charities. I struggled to make sense of these for a long time, but now I have decided that the word “charity” clearly means different things to different people.

The reality that I work for international organizations who have been active in hundreds of lands and have trained millions of volunteers is hard to get across without oversharing. So I sort of grin and bear the comments I receive and let people carry on in their own rather fanciful or preposterous opinions.

I am going to give you a few examples of the things that have been said to me:

  • So do you do charity stuff to make your CV look good?
  • All charities are corrupt and the money you give never gets to the people who need it.
  • Do you go out in fancy dress with buckets fundraising?
  • Are you one of those people who all wear the same colour T-shirt and try to sign people up to direct debits for a charity?
  • Will you be helping the needy this weekend?
  • You must be a very special person to choose to be a charity worker.
  • It’s so nice you get to help out with charities, that’s what I want to do when I retire.
  • You must be quite well off to be able to afford to only work part-time so you can do your charity work.
  • I would help you with your charity if it is for abandoned kittens – nothing else matters to me.
  • I’d like to do something for charities but I don’t really have the time.

I cannot tell you how weird all these comments sound to me. I guess they just have a very different view of that word “charity” than I do.