Charity; is it really worth it?

It is almost two years since the birth of 40 days over 40 smiles. Last night a few thoughts kept me awake and they shall consequently form the content of this blog post.

The journey we embarked on is designed in such a way that we meet people from diverse backgrounds; rich, poor, vulnerable, deliberately vulnerable, middle class etc.  Assorted characters; humble, conceited, selfish, hypocritical, selfless, devious, you name it.

I shall try to break this down using real life examples so that you understand what I mean.

What is your end game?

Many people have contemplated this, a few have articulated it. Even these ones are in different categories, the ones that want to tell you what to do because they have your ‘best’ interests at heart, and those who will make up a story for you simply because they have failed to comprehend what could drive you so much.

  • One of the beneficiaries from our programmes explained that I was providing assistance because I came from a wealthy family and this was some sort of relief so I wouldn’t feel guilty about all the wealth we had amassed. Funny, right? As if it wasn’t enough, another one mentioned that the car I sometimes drove had been purchased by the funds I raised for ‘her children.’ When they spoke to me though, they were so full of praises. Isn’t charity work just great?
  • A ‘concerned’ mature spectator also informed me that the more I looked after children that didn’t belong to me, the more impossible it would be to get my own. After all, I was only becoming pitiable myself. Her quick solution was for me to drop my work and find a husband. If I had any trouble, she would gladly help. How thoughtful :0

Do you know who I am?

Last year, at one of our fundraisers (Hoops4Grace) a popular basketball player turned up. He refused to pay the entrance fee of a measly 3,000UGX claiming he was there on invite. It was explained to him that everyone present had been invited and they still had to pay a small fee as it was a charity fundraiser.

He did not heed, said he would ‘help us’ and buy our alcohol as if he has ever gotten into a concert and said “Hey, your tickets are 20,000 but I shall drink whisky worth 100,000sh instead.”

We did not cause a scene but it sure said a lot about the ‘man’ that he is. (I shall not blame upbringing because at this age surely….*&^%”>#$*)

In semi related news another ‘celebrity’ agreed to perform at another of our events. He showed up two hours late. When he arrived, he saw the crowd of about 200 and said it was too small. He went on to explain to me that he had grown a brand for himself and could not be associated with ‘few’ people like the ones I presented. Before he drove off, he made it a point to remind me “FYI, it is not like I was being paid or anything.”  This particular one was so sad it became funny.

As if to tempt me, for the next few days I was bombarded by tweets and conversations in which he came up. I put on my best poker face and moved on.

Call me, let us work together

This one used to get me so excited. The likelihood of a new partner, hope for a beautiful fresh relationship.  One who has come to us and not the other way round- great prospects, right? Well, one in ten of these particular promises turn out into something else, i.e 10% chance of it materialising.

For the past two weeks, I have been trying to track down this particular C.E.O after he asked that I get in touch. From calls to texts and emails, most of them ignored, it has started to feel like I am trying to get a date with a guy who is just not that into me.

There are other situations where there is a middle man, this can get worse. You are not sure if he is acting on his own or it is with orders from the actual ‘boss.’

Also the stalking look isn’t quite fabulous, but I shall perfect it :D.

Hey, let me tell you about 40-40

Yesterday, two members of my team had a scheduled meeting with another corporate.

He asked them to get to the hotel and then call so he could let them know the meeting room.

A few ignored calls and an hour later, this meeting did not happen.

What is the protocol exactly after this incident?

He had an opportunity not to accept but he agreed and provided the time and venue.

You are doing it all wrong

One gentleman sat me down and told me all the ways in which our approach was wrong, how we were young people who could do better things with our lives. When he realised I was relentless, his ‘professional’ advice was on how to turn the charity into a business so that ‘everyone benefits.’ mmmhhh….

It was my idea

Someone I know, let’s call him James, came to a few of our events. Fun, energetic, your average guy really.

A few months later (because Kampala is so small) James was trying to get this girl. As he listed all the things he had done with his young life, he added that he started 40-40. Poor girl, this was the point she was meant to realise that he was compassionate and therefore  Mr.right?. Seriously though, in this age of social media and information sharing-really?

Recently, another lady twice my age or more wanted to know how I managed to ‘steal’ her idea and grow it this much. Hilarious! 😀

These are just a few examples that could be interchanged with any other profession.

A young musician whose parents wonder why he can’t continue pursuing medicine instead of such a poorly paying ‘hobby,’ a business man who follows all the rules when he could make so much more if he only used the ‘back door’ a little bit; It could be a creative rookie who shares his ideas with an ad agency only for them to ‘steal’ his concept, switch it up a bit and then make a fortune out of it.

Fundraising for a cause is no easy feat, especially when you believe in it and need to break all potential barriers to pursue it.

Lucky for us, we have managed to achieve a certain amount of success without necessarily relying on organisations or wealthy individuals.

Our friends and their networks have been incredibly supportive and this has helped grow both our confidence and organisation’s brand.

However, growth comes with responsibility and thus the need to spread our wings.

40-40 did try to work with corporate organisations for a while in the past. When we realised they weren’t keen on joining hands, my friends and I became creative and came up with a few exciting and involving fundraising events that worked out great.  (Every cloud has a silver lining)

A little push can definitely go a long way and we thought it timely to branch out again.

It hasn’t turned out to be an easy ride but I guess nothing worth having comes without a price as we have learnt over and over again.

One or two things still baffle me, especially when people feel they should remind you that they are helping you or better still imply it.

Corporate Social Responsibility ensures that whatever aid is provided is mutually beneficial. If a company has 10 media houses present as they open a classroom in a community school, so be it. They get the coverage and attention they desire and the kids get a class. Everyone is happy.

As 40-40, we are more than glad to deliver a service to vulnerable groups of people and will use all the possible avenues to do this while maintaining our level of integrity.

It makes no sense at all to organise a meeting you won’t attend and have no courtesy to cancel, whether it is with a millionaire or peasant for that matter. People don’t see this too. Their mentality is still lacking as they believe that by supporting a noble cause, they suddenly should be treated like royalty.

Regrettably, we have been exposed to the wrath of several such individuals and organisations breaking promises they were not forced to make in the first place. My guess is that this is just the beginning.

Life is such a wonderful teacher and although the old adage is ‘If you can’t beat them, join them,’ this is one battle I don’t think I will join.

Instead, I am going to buckle up because what we are doing is worth much more than all the disappointments we have encountered.

#Star ta fa 🙂


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