12 June 2017

Uganda: Charitable Giving Is Not Showing Off

Photo: The Observer
A person donating money.

Jal Paddy

I live in awe at the power and influence of charitable giving in this country, and at the ease in which it is done. By charitable giving, I refer to lending a hand or giving one's money, time or expertise to help others along.

Let's start with volunteering. According to the civil service almanac UK, an estimated 15.2 million Britons volunteer their time for good causes at least once a month. These volunteers are not idle folks with time on their hands. They are normal everyday people with a busy life and work schedule, just like any Kampala city dweller.

And just like I explained in my previous article, this whole thing works on the premise of trust between the volunteers and the charity causes for which they give. It is the trust that one's time will be respected and the understanding that the volunteering role does not have to interfere too much with the working lives of the volunteers.

A Ugandan church and its thousands of ushers who help out every Sunday at mass, Sunday schools and other activities are the perfect examples of the wonders to volunteering.

The same rules apply to giving money towards a good cause. The church giver doesn't give because they are rich, but because as Christians we feel compelled to contribute towards the advancement of God's kingdom.

In the Bible, we are encouraged to give what we can, with emphasis on doing so "with a pure heart and a good conscience, and a sincere faith". 1Timothy 1:5

To showcase on Facebook how generous of a giver you are is to be a good example of how not to give. As if foreseeing how this now trendy habit of rich folks throwing money at people, with cameras and live recording on the ready, Jesus sends out a post in Matthew 6:1-2: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise, you have no reward with God... for you would have got your reward in full."

In the form of likes, retweets and a few inches on the gossip columns, I am afraid to say it's this very form of 'selfish' and showy giving that our Ugandan society seems to encourage. We are so stuck on figures that we end up annihilating the many that don't have big sums worth announcing by the MC, and yet are happy to give the little they have - cheerfully and with a big heart.

This is yet another concept the church seems to understand better than the greater society, by using enclosed offertory bags than the open baskets, with people peeping at how much one is giving.

A fundraising function may be the one place where a bit of showing off and splashing of cash can be tolerated because that's the way with fundraising functions.

Majority of UK charities like Save the Children, Oxfam and Red Cross prefer the sustained and consistent giving of the many than to peg their hopes on the occasional splashy giver.

According to Matthew 6:3-4, when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Yours friend,



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