Katy Guest: Shame on the rich who refuse to give to charity

Share
Related Topics

You know what it's like when you come late to a wedding list and all that is left on the happy couple's wish list is an item of cleaning equipment and a dining room table costing £5,000? Then spare a thought for the guests of Mr and Mrs Rooney.

Last week it was revealed that guests at last year's £10m wedding were less than generous with their donations towards the future happiness of the young couple. But not in the usual way. For, where some couples ask their loved ones for Egyptian cotton sheets, Le Creuset pans and Sabatier knives (the better to preserve the illusion that they have just moved out of their parents' homes to take their first faltering steps on an exciting and mysterious new life and have not in fact been shacked up together cooking stews and breeding like rabbits for the past 15 years), Wayne and Coleen asked their guests not to give presents but to donate to a hospice. And not many people did.

The Claire House hospice in the Wirral, which regularly looks after the bride's 10-year-old sister, has revealed that it did not, as has been reported, receive donations totalling £2m from the starry crowd. Instead, between them, guests including Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Michael Carrick (the fifth most expensive player ever acquired by Manchester United) coughed up £2,000. The hospice says that just four of the 64 guests made contributions, of an average £500 each. It has not revealed who donated money, or who didn't.

Buskers, Big Issue vendors and the compilers of national statistics know that rich people are notoriously stingy when it comes to giving. Recent figures show that the poorest fifth of British people give away 3 per cent of their income to charity. The richest fifth give away 1 per cent. Scale down that fifth to include only Premier League footballers and their celebrity wives and it looks as though the richest Britons can't quite manage to give anything at all to a struggling cause, unless we are about to discover that half of Comic Relief's £57m this year was secretly donated by an an anonymous consortium of Premier League players.

Charity giving is a complicated science. We are much more likely to help an identifiable individual than a nameless group, say the experts. (A number of generous donors helped out with Jade Goody's wedding; how much do they give to cervical cancer research?) The bystander effect means that we are less likely to help when others are available to do so. (You'd give as much as the next man, but perhaps not if you know that the next man earned £10m for his last transfer.) When faced with an insurmountable problem, we focus on what cannot be achieved rather than what can. And thinking about money, goes the psychology, makes us feel alienated from those we might help. (It is pretty hard to empathise with poverty, I always find, while sipping champagne on board a £40m yacht.)

The Rooneys – who are said to be "extremely disappointed" by the lacklustre performance of their guests – might be interested to know that this is not a universal law. In America, the super-rich and the working poor give about the same proportion of their overall salaries to charity. That makes about 1.7 per cent of the US economy that is magnanimously given away – compared with 0.73 of ours.

Should they want to renew their vows, and want to find a more generous crowd with whom to share the occasion, the couple might perhaps want to move to the States. Failing that, they might find they raise a lot more money if they just hold their next wedding back in Croxteth.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum