Harvest-time is the season of giving. But why is it that we are more willing to give to charities closer to home and our hearts than equally-deserving charities further away?

1 out of 5 of the UK’s population live below the poverty line. Autumn for many, symbolises the end of summer and the coming hardships of wintertime, the harsh cold calling for a decision; fuel or food- both of which are a matter of health and safety. Autumn is when Harvest plays a role in our lives, as we celebrate the time when farmers grow all the food that comes to our table. It is through the giving and sharing of food at this festival, that Christians show their thanks to God for providing food, at the end of a successful harvest.

Communities such as schools, supermarkets, businesses and local community groups for example cub scouts, allow individuals to donate “dry, tinned, long-life and ambient goods” to help the wider community, as foodbanks work to stop hunger in our local area. Food banks and churches allow those in need and crisis to collect food to help their families. Schools, such as mine, provide large collections at times like Harvest, and donate to Epsom and Ewell foodbank. In 2018, Epsom and Ewell foodbank provided 3747, 3-day emergency supplies to people in crisis, the Trussell Trust (in which Epsom Foodbank is included) researched and discovered “the top three reasons for referral to a food bank in 2017-18 were, ‘income not covering essential costs’, ‘benefit delays’ and ‘benefit changes’”. Those who have suffered these circumstances, or have used a foodbank are likely to give a higher percentage of their income in the future than more financially well-off people. This is because they are more able to relate to the cause and therefore are more willing to volunteer and donate, as they understand the impact their help can have.

These personal connections to an organisation or cause make people more likely to donate- for example if a relation had cancer you are more likely to volunteer for race for life or donate to cancer research. It encourages you to be more charitable as you realise the impact generosity can have on your loved ones, you’re therefore more likely to donate for other charities, further from home and discover what they do/ how you are helping others. I’ve recently come into contact with many who have used the site: justgiving.com for fundraising events and donations for their loved ones, it shares their story and how the charity they are raising for helps others, making it more personal.

Research shows that donors are more responsive to requests that have one clear beneficiary and utilise emotional appeal to show how their donation can affect one individual suffering the problem. As their donations are unlikely to have an impact on the widespread issue, this allows them to see the effect their donation has, creating a personal attachment, led by their hearts over their heads.

Foodbanks, having an impact on the local community, means people are more likely to donate, as they like to see the impact their donation has. Donations increase as perceived distances decrease and this means that you are more likely to donate to a local charity or a charity closer to your heart. Unfortunately this means that many other life changing causes may miss out as you are more likely to donate in your local community. You are more likely to donate to causes you can relate too, for example people your own age or those local to you. As a teenage girl in education I am more likely to donate to Malala Trust for building children’s schools than to aid recent flooding in Central Nigeria as I’ve never experienced the misfortune of natural disasters, despite some arguing that it is a more worthy cause as could save lives- you are unable to rank Charities in what they do, as they all have an impact.

In the UK there are over 40,000 volunteer workers making staggering differences through working with charities. Those who aren’t able to make as large a financial donation as they wish are instead volunteering for organisations. For example many foodbank workers are people who have previously been to a foodbank or were unable to get assistance and therefore are now helping others gain similar support.

In comparison to causes elsewhere you are more likely to donate to charities at home as you are more able to recognise the problem; many say that you should improve issues in your own area before you help elsewhere, however I believe that often Charities elsewhere are more worthy of my donations.

After all, charity is charity, whether you are giving to or helping someone in your house, in your community or on the other side of the world, they still need your help.

By Bethan Massey, Rosebery School.