Anonymous giving

Perhaps the most unselfish form of giving is when we do it anonymously –  forgoing the expectation of any reciprocity, even in the form of acknowledgement or thanks. 

When reading bad news stories in the paper, I sometimes daydream about how good it would feel to be a multi-millionaire and be able to zap off substantial personal donations, via the police or charities, to victims of crime or circumstance.

Lately I came across a nice example of someone who had used her money to make anonymous donations.  In her recent memoir British actress Dawn French describes about a friend who helped prop her up financially, back when she was young and struggling.  Dawn recounts:

She had a bit of cash and she was always free with it.  I will never forget when she noticed how hard up I was, and how embarrassing it was for me to completely run out of dosh by the end of the week.  Somehow she obtained my bank details and anonymously put money into my empty account which saw me through a whole month.  I didn’t know who had done it for ages, but found out later that it was she who had been so fabulously generous.

Dear Fatty, Dawn French (Century, 2008)

Despite its good intentions, anonymous giving needs to be handled sensitively, as it can come across as patronising: I’ve known of people who were actually offended by anonymous gifts of money or food, because the giver had assumed that the recipient was poor and needed the assistance.  So…handle with care.

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