Archive for December, 2010

Is self promotion a bad thing?

Sunday, December 26th, 2010 | Thoughts

A week ago the Humanist Action Group did a holiday food drive that I was involved in. Once we had made up the food packs we delivered them to local hostels, dropped them off and went home.

There were no banners, no photo shoots outside the hostels, no informational leaflets carefully concealed inside the packs so that receipts would know which deity had suppository inspired someone to think that helping out your fellow man would be a good thing to do. We just wanted to do a good thing, for goodness’ sake.

Later, a friend of mine brought the issue up.

“A part of me wonders if you can really afford to miss that kind of publicity. You could have been there, during the day, spoke to the manager, got a photo,” he suggested. “Part of me likes the way you guys just do it and disappear back into the night, taking nothing but a warm feeling that will shield you from the next dozens times you refuse to give £2 a month to save a child’s life because you know it’s actually going to pay the salary of the professional fundraiser currently talking to you. But you’re missing such a good opportunity for PR.”

I thought about this for a while. And I think he’s right.

Consider this. The problem with milking such PR opportunities is that it detracts from the moral goodness of the whole situation. It looks like you’re only doing it so you can show everyone you’ve done some good and can feel really good about yourself (of course, if you do good, you should feel good about yourself – that’s how charity works, if people didn’t feel good about themselves for volunteering, nobody would – it’s what we and every other charity depends on!).

Or, for a perhaps clearer analogy, consider corporate giving. Big corporations give, often huge amounts of money away to charity. Ignoring that a lot of this is just a tax dodge there is one big reason why corporations do this – to get their photo taken helping out some kind of good cause, so everyone thinks they are a nice company, so people buy from them and they make more money in the long run. It’s selfishly motivated, they’re only doing it so they can earn more money in the long term.

But lets look again at organisations like the Humanist Action Group. What benefit would we derive from milking publicity out of such situations? Well, profit obviously wouldn’t be one of them. We’re a registered charity and therefore obviously non-profit, we have no shareholders to pay and money is definitely a one way stream away from the trustees pockets than towards them!

So what would we get out of the publicity? Well, we would get publicity in itself. But actually, this isn’t just a good PR shot to help cover up some shady business dealings as it may be for corporations – this is actually our business, we’re getting publicity doing what we do – helping people.

And what would be the consequence of doing this? More people would know about our work, more people would support us, we would generate more volunteers and more revenue – and end up with more resources to help more people!

It turns into a perceptual cycle in which the more good publicity we get from doing good things, the more support we will receive and as it’s a closed system (money doesn’t come out to fund things like shareholders, it’s all invested back into the charity) it just means we can help more people, and get more publicity and help even more people, and so on.

When a charity milks something for publicity, it isn’t helping its own ego (it’s not an evil corporation), it’s not helping it’s shareholders, it’s only helping one cause – the cause it’s trying to help in the first place.

That isn’t to say that from now on it’s all about grabbing as much positive PR as possible at every opportunity. But maybe being open to the idea of making a bit more of a deal about the amazing stuff I see our volunteers doing, wouldn’t be such an evil after all.

Humanist Library Project

Sunday, December 26th, 2010 | Foundation

Humanist LibraryAt CWF, one of our core aims is promoting education, be it via our courses, our public understanding of science lectures or the online resources and educational material we provide. Today, we are adding a new initiative to this list.

We are creating the Humanist Library of Leeds, a project to build a world standard collection of humanist and naturalist publications in Leeds, United Kingdom. A shining light of reason in the North of England.

You can learn more about the project on its website.

As part of the project, we are looking for donations of items for the library on topics of humanism, naturalism and secularism, and the surrounding subjects – philosophy, theology, natural sciences and other such topics. If you can help the project, please get in touch! You may also want to consider supporting our work by becoming a patron of the library.

You can read more of Chris’s thoughts on the first post of the project’s blog. You can also watch the video below.

Tim Minchin

Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | Distractions, Reviews

Tim Minchin

On Friday, myself and Norm headed over to Manchester to see Tim Minchin at the MEN.

Tim certainly didn’t disappoint! He is currently touring with a 55 piece symphony orchestra which he uses to great affect and left us all coming away with some brand new favourite Tim Minchin songs, number one for most of us being Sam’s Mum’s Cataracts (btw, the official name of the song is Thank You God if you were wondering).

The best part of the evening though was finding out that even though Aimee had booked her tickets five months ago, and I had booked mine on Tuesday – we were closer to Tim than she was 😀 .

Winter Solstice meal

Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | Humanism, Life

On Tuesday we headed down to Red Hot World Buffet for the Atheist Society’s annual Winter Solstice meal.

Or at least, that is where we thought we were heading. We had decided that we didn’t need to book because only six people had confirmed as coming on Facebook and it was a Tuesday and it was a buffet and it was huge.

However, on the night, 12 people turned up and when Norm, who had gone on ahead of us, asked how long the wait would be on an appropriated sized table – he was told, two weeks! I mean seriously, who holds their Christmas party on a Tuesday and goes to a buffet? Standards these days.

Luckily Spice Quarter were kind enough to fit us in so we enjoyed a high quality buffer after all.

Leeds HAG holiday food drive

Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | Foundation, Humanism

On Monday, the Humanist Action Group of Leeds completed it’s holiday food drive. Having spent the previous two weeks collecting food and donations to put together food parcels for local homeless shelters, the group spend the night bringing together all the food and packaging it up.

In total the group managed 24 boxes, most of which had to be duct taped shut due to them overflowing. The lesson for next time – we need bigger boxes!

Meat Loaf

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 | Distractions

Meat Loaf

Of all the gigs I imagine I would have shortlisted to go to this year, I can’t say Meat Loaf would have been one of them. But when I got a text off Norm saying he had two tickets to the o2 corporate box, I thought to myself, “I could go for a bit of that.”

So we headed over to the MEN in Manchester for a bit of corporate hospitality. Which is a codeword for free bar. Good times :D. The box itself was quite nice, it also included some tasty food (that they come in and steal in the middle of the main gig though) and it’s quite a nice level to watch the show from – could definitely get used to this kind of thing!

It’s that time of year again

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 | Humanism

With this week being the last week of term, we headed down to OK Karaoke for the social this week. Despite it being a somewhat Christmas themed event though – they didn’t even have Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, which was of course last year’s Christmas number one.

Christmas Beliefs around the World

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 | Events, Humanism

On Tuesday, Leeds Atheist Society hosted a talk by James Murray on “Christmas Beliefs around the World” which looked at the true origins of the holiday season and the various, often comical, holiday traditions around the world.

HCoL holds it’s first evening meeting

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 | Foundation, Humanism

As we announced last month, the Humanist Community of Leeds is now meeting in the evening. The first of which time slots took place last Sunday where we discussed the differences and similarities between humans and animals as well as the concept of human rights.

Helping the less fortunate this holiday season

Monday, December 6th, 2010 | Foundation, Humanism

Having just sent this message out to everyone in the Humanist Action Group, I thought it was probably worthwhile posting here too…

As you may have seen from the invites that Katie sent out, we’re doing a food drive to put together food parcels for people living in shelters this holiday season – you can find more details on the Facebook event.

There are a number of ways you can get involved…

  1. Donating food. We need non-perishable stuff like tinned food, chocolate bars, etc. It costs very little to throw an extra few tins of baked beans or cans of fish in your trolley and Katie has even volunteered to come collect it from you!
  2. Donating time. We need people to come down on Monday to help make up the parcels and deliver them. One evening for weeks, if not months of feeling good about yourself ;).
  3. Donating cash. If you don’t have time to do any of the above, then consider making a one time donation – we’ll be doing a Marko run to buy as much food as we can for the parcels, so the more money we have, the more we can buy! You can find our bank details and donation links on the charity’s website.

Thanks for your support!