Charity Begins at Home

dfid_logo_largeFor all the bad press and the flak that the British people get across the international spectrum, it was satisfying to see recently that the UK is the only one of the G8 Nations, and only one of 6 countries world wide that met their commitment to spend 0.7% of the Annual GDP on International Foreign Aid.

This afternoon as I was sitting watching TV, I was subjected to a barrage of Adverts appealing for charitable donations for everything from clean water charities, to ones that protect working donkeys around the globe. However, one of them stood out to me and got me thinking. It was a call for people to donate to pay for support to be provided to the refugees of the Syrian civil unrest.

Now I feel sorry for the innocent people caught up in the horror of war. It is never a pleasant reality to have to accept when we learn of the suffering, hardship and risk to hard working, normal citizens of any nation on earth. These are the facts of war, people are displaced, put in harms way, used as human shields. It is hard to deal with the images that are flashed across the screen, being used specifically to emote and provoke a response within you.

Having worked in the third sector, I know all too well how it is the powerful effect of seeing children suffering, or animals that are suffering in silence that bring the money rolling in through the door. What you don’t see luxury trimmings that senior management enjoy every day behind the scenes. The fat pay cheques, the nice cars, the expensive dinners, the plush offices, the flights, the hotels suites, oh the list goes on and on. But we all know and chose to forget that this is all a part of running an effective multi billion dollar charity. Hell the budget that these charities use on television advertising could probably educate a small army of third world children each year.

It was not this that got me itchy though. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder, how it is that only six nations have met this commitment to foreign aid. Who are the biggest donors, who make sure they meet their promises, and what did the league of international aid donors look like?

Before we actually look at the top ten donors in the world, let’s just check who the top ten richest countries in the world are by GDP for 2013, courtesy of Forbes Magazine In order from the richest, the top ten are; Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Norway, Hong Kong SAR, Brunei, USA, UAE, Switzerland, Kuwait.

So then I took a look at the list of the top ten International Donations in the form of Aid. These are nations that have been donating a huge chunk of their wealth as successful hard working and profitable countries to those less fortunate. So who are the top ten this time? Well according to the United Nations this time, they are; Sweeden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France.

Amazing. Not one of the Arab nations, places rolling in the wealth of oil profits, places that are so wealthy they can afford to build fancy palm shaped islands and state of the art cities, no expense spared. These are nations that don’t blink an eye at squandering billions of dollars building a ski dome in a desert, or buildings that defy the laws of nature.

Yet, despite all that wealth, NOT ONE of them are listed in the top ten countries that donate to the well being of others. Truth be told, the UN website provides information on the top 25 nations, and not a single one of them are from within the Middle East. Yet, here I am on a Wednesday evening, sat watching an advert on British Television appealing for UK Citizens to donate £2 a month to funding aid work in Syria.

The Western world have poured billions of dollars into international aid efforts in support of Arab nations all across the world. From Palestine to Pakistan, Syria to Libya, Turkey to Mongolia. These are the very nations that call for Western blood and despise our way of life, yet when the chips are down they are perfectly willing to allow the aid agencies to come running with their good will and generosity, no thanks needed.

It is pathetic. How a nationality of people, a whole section of our creed of mankind could be so small minded that when it comes to being able to reach out and alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate than themselves, that the Arab people collectively seem incapable of putting their money where it matters.

I accept that this is not the rule that applies to every person within the Arab community, and there are sections of the UK Arab fraternity that are as active in funding aid efforts to the Middle East as some Western Agencies. However I am disappointed that collectively as a people, with nations as rich and powerful as they are, they are not leading the way by example.

If the UK were to stop it’s international aid commitments this year, we would be out of debt in record time. We would have huge swathes of money available in our coffers to build new roads, create jobs, build infrastructure to support a real first world nation. Thing is, as a people, we actually do care about what happens in the world around us. Despite the fact that most people think that the Brits are a little pompous, maybe a bit full of themselves, probably aloof, the thing is they really do have a reason to be.

It does bug me, and seem rude, yes I accept that. But when you have a nation that actually steps up to the mark, takes its responsibilities seriously and gives a shit about others before themselves, then I am sorry, but next time you want to go burn a flag or spread some hate, look at home. You might find you get more achieved when you start to sort things out in your own back yard.

Charity really does begin at home. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The first world needs to wake up and realise that we need to get it right at home, here in our nations, where our people are suffering and struggling; before we go running off to fix the rest of the world. Nature is cruel, it is harsh and it is unpredictable. You can’t save them all. I cannot help but wonder if the Euro Zone and Northern American Alliance were to turn off the tap of International Aid tomorrow, how long it’d be before the world went into total melt down. Sad but true, half this world rely on the backhanders and funds that pour out of the coffers of a very few nations that help to prop up and sustain a world in need, while the rich and greedy, just get fatter and greedier.

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Top 5 Television Adverts of 2012

So last year I spent some time going through all the adverts I could remember from 2011 and shared my top 5 selections with you. Hmmmm, well I think I started something that would just be totally uncool not to continue, and see how things develop over time. Don’t you think?

As always, 2012 was filled with a mind bogglingly huge selection of commercials to choose from. There was really great ones, okiesh ones, and of course the epic fails that continue to plague us through the year. The Go Compare team still fail to understand the concept of great advertising, and for yet another year we’ve been subjected to hours of some operatic twits warbles in a vain effort to convince us to partake of the offerings from Go Compare.

Compare the Market have milked Aleksander for as much as they can get out of him for a while I think, and while I loved the concept at first, their range and ideas have become rather stale and bland through 2012 in my opinion.

Cilit band continues to torture us with Barry Scott and his ludicrous claims that Cilit Bang is so powerful that it even has a turbo boost , which it advertiseses by parking a jet in a hanger with a couple of shelves of Cilit Bang around it. Turbo Power? I didn’t know jets had turbo’s!!

Of course the list of painful, dull and lifeless adverts is endless. As I have said before, I like to be wowed by a commercial. Made to think or made to chuckle. Keep it fresh, keep it relevant and entertain me. In this way, maybe I am really actually interested in checking out your product or service.

There are some companies that you expect to produce a great advert. Places like British Airways, or John Lewis. Marks and Sparks and some of the big name Corporate Brands. I think John Lewis totally missed the mark with their Christmas advert this year, which was a disappointment, and in a year when so much was going on in the UK, BA really missed an opportunity too. But even though some of the big boys on the block didn’t feature, there are some pure beauties still.

So for this year, these are a selection of the five best adverts in my opinion. I am not sure which one is the best, so there is no specific order to them.

1. E.ON Best Deal Advert

2. Pedigree Denta Stix Advert. This makes me chuckle every time.

3. The BBC 2012 Olympic Coverage Advert

4. Cartier Long Form Advert

5. Matalan Christmas Advert

Compared with last year, it was not easy to choose my top five this year, and that was not because there were too many too choose from. I guess that the lack of money is even hitting advertising budgets ey? So of the five presented, which is the best in your opinion then?