December 2011 Issue

This month read the exciting feature ‘In Bed with John Lennon’ alongside a special anniversary feature for the Orange Theatre turning 40.

Editor's Letter

AH, so that explains it.

Last year, in what seemed at the time to be a cunning dual appeal to self-interest and the urge to do good, The Richmond Magazine ran a Christmas appeal in aid of two local charities, in which all donors were entered for a holiday prize draw

Interest was somewhat muted. Sure, the appeal raised several hundred pounds for the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice (as it then was) in Hampton Hill and Kew based children’s charity React, while the lucky prizewinners had a lovely time down on the Algarve.

But Live Aid it wasn’t. I had fondly expected to be swamped by sun-seeking philanthropists, all anxious to subtract from the sum of human misery while simultaneously topping up their tan.

In the event, however, the anticipated flood was rather more like a dried-up pond.

If the BBC had run a contest to name a worm in the Blue Peter garden, they’d have probably had a better response.

Why so? Well, apparently, it’s all to do with the way our minds work.

For it seems that, whenever the brain is presented with two sets of data – one relating to an offer, the other relating to a financial request – the latter eclipses the former and makes us run a mile.

By contrast, when an appeal for money is made in isolation, the brain evaluates it on its own terms.

What this means is that my core assumption – that attaching a tempting bait to the hook of our appeal for cash would make people more likely to contribute – was false.

Paradoxically, it seems, we would have had more takers if we had simply asked for donations to the charities concerned.

This would have tapped straightforwardly into the brain’s philanthropic side.

By linking the appeal to a prize draw, we ensured that people would focus on the prize, then realize that they had to ‘pay’ to enter and thus decide to give it all a miss.

So this Christmas, The Richmond Magazine is offering readers something entirely different: nothing. Absolument rien. Big fat zero. Absolut nichts. Diddly squat.

Instead, I shall simply point you in the direction of the many fine local charities that could use a helping hand amid the swirling financial storm.

And, as invidious as it may seem to pick out just one, allow me to issue a brief plea on behalf of the appeal by Zac Goldsmith MP for ‘Friends of the Vineyard’.

The original Vineyard Project, a Richmond day centre for the homeless for 33 years, was forced to close earlier this year due to lack of funds.

Now local groups have relaunched it as The Vineyard Community Centre – but they need £50,000 to ensure its survival. Over to you.

As Sir Winston Churchill once remarked: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

On the other hand, do heed the cautionary words of the comedian: “If you stop and help each and every person on the way, you’ll miss the last bus.” Happy Christmas.

The Richmond Magazine december 2011 issue
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