There has been much in the press and media about how much (or little) we give to charity. Putting the inevitable debate about the accuracy of statistics to one side, I feel the story has missed the point, particularly when comparing British giving to American.
If there is a defining difference between the British and American culture it is about the role of money. In America, everything has a price. In Britain, I believe that we place a greater emphasis on support, that has no price. Whether it’s volunteering on a regular basis, caring for others, or just being there to help out, the value of what we give is worth far more than the value of our financial donations.
I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t be giving more funds to good causes, but it is also worth stopping to think for a moment about the value of your time given to help others. As businesses know, time is money, and is equally valuable whatever you do with it.
There is a debate about whether charities should record the value of non financial contributions (particularly volunteers time) in their accounts to show the true value of their “receipts”. Needless to say this has been contentious. After all, is an hour of one person’s time worth the same as another? Do we value time on the basis of what it is worth to the giver or the recipient?
What we give is personal and should reflect our ability to give, which might mean its less about money, and more about our skills and experience. To me, the important thing is that we give what we can to the community that we are part of. Sometimes just giving time is the most valuable donation of all.