Ever noticed the high number of aristocratic and wealthy ladies involved with charity? There is a reason why. But that, we will discuss at the end of this article. Let’s begin with a brief discussion on what charity is…
WHAT IS CHARITY?
Charity is the voluntary giving of help – in the form of money, goods, time or skills – to those in need, either directly or through a charitable organization. Most forms of charity are concerned with providing basic necessities such as food, water, clothing, healthcare and shelter, but other actions may be performed as charity.
Some examples are visiting the imprisoned or the homebound, ransoming captives, educating orphans, joining social movements, and donating to causes (like cancer research) that benefit the unfortunate indirectly.
In many religious sectors, charity is said to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because in being charitable, one is both glorifying and reflecting the nature of God – to love and care for all.
A charitable organization or charity is a non-profit organization (NPO) whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being. The legal definition varies according to country and regions of a country.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS
Most major religions [i.e. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism] have a long tradition in charitable work.
Until the mid-18th century, charity was mainly distributed through parish relief, churches, almshouses and bequests from the rich. Charities provided education, health, housing and even prisons. Almshouses were established throughout Europe in the Early Middle Ages to provide a place of residence for poor, old and distressed people.
In the Enlightenment era, charitable and philanthropic activity among voluntary associations and rich benefactors became a widespread cultural practice. Societies, gentleman’s clubs, and mutual associations began to flourish in England, and the upper-classes increasingly adopted a philanthropic attitude toward the disadvantaged. In England this new social activism was channeled into the establishment of charitable organizations; these proliferated from the middle of the 18th century.
Charities during this time also began to adopt campaigning roles, where they would champion a cause and lobby the government for legislative change. This included organized campaigns against the ill treatment of animals and children.
During the 19th century, philanthropy became a very fashionable activity among the expanding middle classes in Britain and America. Octavia Hill (1838-1912) and John Ruskin (1819-1900) were an important force behind the development of social housing, and Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) exemplified the large-scale philanthropy of the newly rich in industrialized America. In Gospel of Wealth (1889), Carnegie wrote about the responsibilities of great wealth and the importance of social justice. He established public libraries throughout the English-speaking countries as well as contributed large sums to schools and universities. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charitable_organization
WOMEN AND THEIR CHARITABLE WORK
Women have had a long history with charity work. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t just the wealthy practicing charity, but the poor as well. Each developed their method based on their economic and social capabilities.
In the past, many lower class women would gather together and monitor the welfare of the members in their community. They would have discussions on varying issues, such as the consumption of alcohol, lack of adequate school books, hiring of teachers, death in childbirth, illness, and even the education of girls. In those unofficial meetings, they would often discuss what was needed, who could provide it, and how to go about making the changes needed. In some cases, they would also plan the offering of their abilities to those in need.
If someone looked to be suffering from a lack of money, these ladies would try to find a way to gather food or knit clothing to help the person out. If a mother became too sick to take care of her family, someone would offer to clean her home, cook for her family, or babysit her kids. These women did the best they could and provided what they could, even if it was little in comparison to the rich. But sometimes, that little was all the person or that community needed.
For wealthy women, charitable work was a little more complex. Many got involved with the good intention of making a positive difference. However, some also got involved for other reasons.
During a time when ladies had few rights, charity became a loop-hole. Under the guise of charitable work, many wealthy women could lobby for reforms like their male counterparts. They could also visit areas that would normally be considered inappropriate for a lady to visit, speak to individuals normally they could not, and use their organizational and leadership skills in ways that gave them a sense of purpose. It was a freedom they could not have had otherwise.
For others, charitable work was fashionable, sometimes even expected. This social practice can be seen in many elite circles still today.
Today, charitable work has become a popular way for women to meet the upper-class men they normally would not have access to as well as to boost resumes and university student applications.
There are many reasons why women volunteered their time and money in the past, and there are just as many reasons today. But whatever the reason, the key thing we must always remember is they made a change. They went out of their way to offer their time or money; and someone less privileged benefited from that generosity.
Let us re-iterate: whatever the reason or economic status, whatever the method used – these women made a change. In the end, that is all that matters.
WHY GET INVOLVED WITH CHARITABLE WORK
For all the reasons above, we recommend every lady make an effort to volunteer some of her time and/or money to a cause. Volunteering time is especially helpful for a lady’s self-development. It provides a lady new experiences, new contacts, and a new way of looking at situations which will help her tremendously when it comes to socializing. It will also help her develop some humility, compassion, consideration, and other virtues that not only others will appreciate but she, herself, will too. Volunteering time can also help a lady develop self-confidence and leadership skills. There are a million and one reasons why a lady should volunteer, with the number one reason always being: it’s the right thing to do and the best way to make a change.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
We live in an era of diversity and multitude. And there are just as many causes and organizations to reflect that. Causes that help poverty, education, religion, health, migration, community development, the arts, culture, science, sports, human rights, peace, equality, diversity, environmental protection, environmental improvement, elderly, youth, disability, animal welfare, military, the police, fire and rescue services, ambulance services, construction of buildings and monuments, and legal defense are just a few.
Never think you must volunteer in a certain organization or for a certain cause. Societies, around the world, have so many issues, we don’t think a lady can ever run out of ideas of where and how she can make a difference.
So, if you are not interested in any causes you are seeing, develop your own. If you are financially unable to develop one, know that you can find a cause close to home. Many times, in our interest to fight big causes, we forget that smaller ones, near and dear, need us too.
If you don’t believe in charitable organizations anymore or don’t want to work with one, that is ok. With all the controversies going on about the misuse of donated funds or the damage and violence done to the under-privileged by those who are supposed to help them – disillusionment is understandable and fair. But don’t let that stop you from helping. There are so many problems and so many people in need, it’d be a shame to not offer some help.
With that said, we will leave you with this video by the musician Drake. This is a wonderful example how you can help outside the confines of an organization.
Every charitable action can be altered to fit your circumstances and environment.
If you have children you want to raise with a charitable heart, here is a video we recommend you watch.
“Educating the heart is just as important as educating the mind.” – PBS