After talking to some people about my ‘observation’, that those on lower incomes were more generous with a recent charity appeal; then being told by some in wealthier households that they were only giving ‘Government’ money away – I thought I’d see what would happen if these two groups met and talked about the differences in each others life and lifestyle.
Who attended the ‘gathering’ (not their real names)
Mike – business owner, father of 3, own home and holiday home
Stewart – retired business executive, father of 2, owns multiple properties
Rachael – business owner, mother of 2, own home and holiday home
Stephen – business consultant – father of 2, own home
Stephanie – solo mother of 3, beneficiary, subsidised housing
Robert – father of 2, unemployed, beneficiary, subsidised housing
Jemma – widow, mother of 2, beneficiary, subsidised housing
Angela – mother of 3, employed part-time, subsidised housing
What took place, after a casual cuppa (you can’t beat a cup of tea to get people to relax and start talking), we sat down and talked about why people give, how they give and what it is like to struggle and still find ways to help others in the community.
For those who have a good income, own their own homes and have reasonable disposable cash giving isn’t normally an issue, but for those who struggle to cope week to week, pay cheque to pay cheque it’s a whole different story.
What came out of the discussion opened everyone’s eyes, mine included.
A little more background, the income range of the group was vast with the highest earner taking home (after tax) in excess of $350,000 (bonuses, car included) and the lowest taking home no more than $320 per week – now that’s a gap.
For those on the lowest income giving was more important to them than for those earning the higher amounts.
Another staggering thing was those who earned the most tended to give to global causes, whereas those earning the least were more concerned about their local community and causes closer to home.
It was interesting to see people’s faces when Stephanie, Robert, Jemma and Angela all talked about their household budget and how they would buy butter perhaps once a month, when it was gone that was it until next month. Milk was also pretty much a luxury, with Jemma and Angela both saying they buy a 2 litre milk each week and it has to last until the following week.
Bacon, what’s that?
Perhaps we live insular lives and don’t realise how the other half live, this discussion seemed to prove that. Even though all participants watch the news, read what’s happening it wasn’t affecting them so they hadn’t seen “the full picture”.
Mike, Stewart, Rachael and Stephen were amazed at how open and honest Stephanie, Robert, Jemma and Angela were about their situations and mentioned that they felt uncomfortable talking about themselves, but after hearing the others stories realised that they needed to listen and share more.
By the end of the get together Mike said he would be rethinking his charity giving, so did Stewart and, Rachael offered to see what she could do to help Jemma and Angela out with perhaps a job or in some other way.
Was it a success – hell yea, eyes were opened, ideas shared and perhaps some friendships formed.
After we wound up everyone went out for lunch, wish I could have joined them to witness the interaction that would have taken place; I’m hoping to get updates on the lunch and what was discussed, maybe more offers of help were given – I hope so.
I know though that changes will be made.