MRM chooses RNIB as its charity of the year

“Almost two million people are living with sight loss in the UK. When you lose your sight, you feel like you lose everything.” (RNIB) Five years ago, my dad was registered blind. Having had sight until his mid-60s, he had to adapt to the complete loss of his vision in later life. Quiet roads that he’s known and walked around with ease for 40 years suddenly became hazardous unknown territory and difficult to navigate (although the arrival of a much-loved guide dog, Eli, has helped immensely). Going to the theatre or cinema or just watching TV became impossible. And even eating a favourite meal became a huge challenge. However perhaps the biggest hurdle he had to face was losing the ability to read. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, my dad always had a book on the go, and his love of reading became mine too. (It’s the reason I studied English and Russian at university – the interest in Russian borne from a love of “A Clockwork Orange” – and led to me having a career in the communications industry). For such an avid reader, no longer being able to read was devastating and one of the hardest things he had to cope with on losing his sight. That’s why RNIB’s Talking Books service has been what he calls a “life saver… without it I would have gone mad” – and thanks to their support his love of reading has been able to continue. He’s a regular user of the service, which offers users access to over 19,000 audio books, reading up to 50 books a year –...

When is one charity more deserving than another?

I was intrigued to read a recent report in The Guardian which highlighted a speech given by New Philanthropy Capital chief exec Martin Brookes on the ‘morality of charity’. Brookes ruffled a few (charity) feathers with his claims that “some charitable causes are just better, and more deserving, than others” and his proposal for charity ‘worthiness’ ranking which could help inform donors to choose “good charities” to support. There’s clearly an interesting debate to be had here, but I’d question how it would ever be possible to judge one charity against another. Is education more (or less) important than the environment? Can you compare domestic violence and disaster relief? Or homelessness against health?  Does a charity have more social ‘worth’ if it benefits people on a nationwide level rather than a few individuals locally? I may have my own opinion on which of the above areas I’d choose to support, but my reasons for doing so are no more or less valid than anyone else’s. Worth is clearly highly subjective, and I’m unsure who would have the moral authority to make such a list, and would be able to do so independent of their own social, political and cultural preferences or prejudices. The practical implications of putting such a list together aside, personal and emotional involvement in a cause is key. As Stephen Bubb, chief exec of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) highlights, the connection between benefactor and cause is crucial. Giving is an extremely individual choice – whether it be a desire to give back to a charity that has personally helped you or a...