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

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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond

To hear the Yes campaigners, you’d think London was the most evil place on Earth

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam