Monday, 20 February, 2012 - 14:21

Should we 'Do something funny for money'?

by Ellen Baston

'Do something funny for money' was a phrase coined by 'Red Nose Day' in the UK. But the concept is a growing phenomenon. Raising money for charity no longer has to be dull or difficult; you can enjoy it! What's the big idea? And more importantly, is it helping those in need?

While some are still sleeping rough to demonstrate the plight of the homeless and others are scaling mountains for sponsorship, a growing number of people are having a good time whilst doing good. 'Movember' is a great example of the trend. Men grow moustaches in November and we give them money for their efforts. It seems simple, even infantile, yet across the Anglophone world an incredible £28,815,491 has been raised so far this month! Why does it work? Some are motivated to donate by the importance of men's health research. But for many, it is simply hilarious to see their friends sprout wispy facial hair in the name of a good cause. Prostate cancer rarely unites and inspires the masses – but humour has brought it to the world's attention.

Similarly telethons across the globe are following the example of 'Red Nose Day' (a TV extravaganza which raises huge sums of money for causes across the UK and Africa). It is clear that people are more charitable when they're entertained. All the 'fun and mayhem' has one aim: to get people to donate. The evening includes a line-up of leading comedians, pop stars and celebrities, all doing their very best to keep the public watching and coughing up the cash. The public get involved too, with people bathing in baked beans or going to school in fancy dress. The crazier the better! Last year the total amount collected was more than £102 million; wow, that's money that can change lives.

Surely this is the perfect combination – entertainment and charity - and it is clearly working. But is there something tragic about our selfishness? We only donate when suitably tickled. We know the world is unjust and war is rife. Yet that knowledge alone isn't enough to move us. We require hours of high-class comedy or surprising facial hair before we reach into our pockets and give. Are we drawn to the sanitised and silly instead of the truth? We relish the warm feeling our good deeds bring; but underneath it all is it just another feel-good factor? Ask most of the young men currently sporting fetching moustaches and I expect they'll tell you they're enjoying the attention. However, if it leads to improved understanding of a killer disease, is that such a bad thing?

There is an incomprehensible need for charitable funding. Millions around the world live in dire situations below the poverty line. Children die every day from easily treatable diseases. For many, life is one long struggle. We can do so little in reality, but we can give money. And we must continue to do so, even if a recession-stricken nation requires a little feel-good factor to remind them. Perhaps we do need to consider what we demand from charity before we donate. But as long as money is raised for good causes, illnesses are cured and poverty is reduced, I'm all for having a laugh as we do it. Go on - do something funny for money.


Have you ever done anything for a good cause? Tell us about your experiences!

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