Don’t tell us under-25s we’re stingy. Paying our way is hard enough as it is

It's a bit rich to label my generation selfish because we lack disposable income


We under 25-year-olds get a bit of a crap deal. Our university fees are expensive, and if we’re lucky enough to find a job, we’ll spend our meagre salaries on exorbitant rent. There might be a few pennies left over to buy a round at the pub after work, convinced if we do we’ll fool everyone into thinking we’re grown up. Some of us become interns and work long hours for little pay with no guarantee of a job at the end. But, full of the excitement of youth, we accept our lot and crack on.

So it was pretty galling to discover that, according to an article published in the Daily Mail on Wednesday, my age group are “uncharitable, selfish and cynical” with recent research conducted by neuroscientists at Mindlab showing that nearly half of the under-25s interviewed for the study had never donated to charity. 

The average salary for UK graduates in full-time employment six months after graduation ranges from £18,000 to £24,000. They’re the lucky ones. Recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions showed that 1.09 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 were not in work, education or training – 410,000 of them are claiming jobseeker’s allowance and 380,000 receive housing benefit.

Given the hours we’re working for free, the extortionate fees we’re paying off, and the rent and bills we’re forking out for, it strikes me a bit rich to label my age group selfish simply because we don’t have the disposable income to give to good causes.

Last week, I received a phone call from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, some 10 months after we adopted a cat from the shelter. Charmingly, the man on the phone wanted to know how Mimi was settling in, reminding us to take care of her during the fireworks and telling us to encourage others to rehome from Battersea. Finally, he explained how overcrowded the home gets over Christmas and asked us to donate £5 a week to help them through their busiest time of year.

It was with a heavy heart I explained that at my age, on my wage, I couldn’t commit to weekly charitable payments. I just don’t have the funds. I’m still learning to juggle council tax, electricity bills and excessive travel costs; stretching my graduate salary to breaking point in a desperate attempt to save what I can so that one day I might be able to clamber on to the property ladder. And I’d already given one of their cats a loving home.

The study also found that under-25s were the most sceptical about donating to charity, with 67 per cent claiming they didn’t think donations made any real difference. I can’t help but feel young people’s disenchantment with the current political situation has marred the way they view more virtuous organisations. (What’s the point in voting? What’s the point in giving to charity?)

It follows then that people prefer to give to charity if they know where their donations go, a theory backed up by the study, with a third of Londoners saying they give to charity but like to know how their money will be used. A survey conducted by the Small Charity Directory in 2010 showed that on average, only around 80p from every pound donated to charity goes towards the charity’s cause.

As a 22-year-old living in London on a graduate wage, I say this: Charity isn’t about who can write out the biggest cheque; although large donations are, of course, gratefully received. Under-25s don’t have cash to flash, so we have to get creative and be charitable in other ways.

Me, I always drop a couple of quid into the paper cups proffered by the homeless on the crowded Tube or on a desolate street corner. I like to think they spend it on a bed for the night, but if they choose to buy alcohol or drugs, that’s fine too. Whatever helps get someone through a cold night on a pavement.

Others grow ridiculous moustaches, or cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats, or bake enough cakes to feed the 5,000, or adopt cats, or run the London Marathon, or raise awareness on Twitter, or work in charity shops, or carry someone’s shopping across the road, or help out at the Brownies, or give blood, or donate clothes, or volunteer at a food bank, or set up a Facebook group imploring people to donate money, food and clothing to the Philippines.

Labelling a group selfish because they don’t give money to charity flies in the face of what philanthropy ought to be about. No one should feel compelled or pressured into making donations. Money bullied off those who can’t afford it is not charity.

We might not be able to send £20 a month to Cancer Research but, on behalf of my peers, I ask that before you brand us “uncharitable” you remember that giving comes in many guises.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific