Under new government plans, we could be asked to donate to charity every time we use a cashpoint. While, undoubtedly, some of us need an altruistic nudge, doesn’t this defeat the point of voluntarily giving?
Charity begins at the cash point. Doesn’t really have the same ring to it as the old adage ‘charity begins at home’, does it? But if the coalition has anything to do with it, the ATM is about to become the modern equivalent of the collection tin.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude recently announced that we will be asked if we want to donate a small portion of our hard-earned cash to deserving causes every time we use a cash dispenser or pay with a bank card.
Charities do an astonishing amount of great work – from Amnesty to the World Wildlife Fund, they deserve our donations to keep up that work. But surely it’s at our discretion where, when and to whom we should be giving?
Cashpoint giving could backfire
The idea of being asked to give every time you take out a tenner raises a whole slew of questions – both moral and practical. Should you really be asked to give or should it be done out of the goodness of your heart? Is the cashpoint really the best place to give? If people know they can give at cashpoints, will they cancel their direct debit to charity? Will they stop giving up their time?
And where will this money go? Will the government decide which charities it goes to? There are almost 190,000 to choose from. Personally, tough as it sounds, we all have our own favourites and I want my money to go to those that I believe in or those that I feel are most deserving.
There may also be questions of cost – banks may take a cut in administration costs and what if you accidently give and then find you’ve slipped into overdraft and can’t pay a bill? Guaranteed, you won’t be giving again.
We’re a charitable nation
As a nation, we are already the eighth most charitable country in the world and, despite 2011 looking like a tough year for many of us, recent reports show that over half of us will be giving the same amount of money or more to good causes than we did in 2010. We really don’t need to be asked every time we want some ready money.
On the other hand, if cashpoints could warn me to stop me taking out extra cash after I’ve had a couple of beers on a night out, that really would be a useful service.