Eat Eggs – Give More

Posted by Karen Driver

The Research:
New research from The Netherlands [1] suggests that eating eggs may lead people to be more charitable. Researchers found that charitable donating could be promoted by the addition to your diet of an essential amino acid called Tryptophan. The Tryptophan converts into serotonin and melatonin, which promotes mood balancing, good social behaviour, acts of kindness and the making of donations to charities. Tryptophan is commonly found in whole eggs, fish, milk and soy (See the link below for those who want to learn more.).

So, if charities are to be more successful in their donor procurement, they should be targeting donors (i) after breakfast, (ii) in the supermarket isle that has eggs, (iii) by holding omelette parties, and (iv) promoting egg-eating contests. Or they could seek to raise funds in China and Japan, whose per-capita consumption of eggs is over 20kg per year. And, no, crème eggs don’t count!

The Problem:
We all know charities are persistently asking us for money and that there seem to be more charities each year. But the funding of charities involved in environmental work is particularly woeful.

We all have an element of environmental conscience and we all have a vested interest in protecting and enhancing our environment. So why do environmental charities struggle more than others? There are several reasons for this:

  • Environmental charities struggle to make a convincing case to demonstrate the gravity of the environmental problems they seek to address
  • There is often conflicting evidence and opinion around environmental issues – the data is often befuddled and disputed by governments or big commerce
  • Environmental charities struggle to produce tangible, clearly discernible results from their funding
  • We all suffer from ‘climate change fatigue’ – we’ve heard it all before
  • Environmental degradation is often slow and perceived as remote from our daily lives and the consequences beyond our lifespans
  • Donors,(private and corporate), do not recognise or understand the environmental charity ‘market place’. It can be difficult for donors who wish to support a particular environmental cause to find suitable charities, and even more difficult for those donors to understand how their donation will be utilised to support that cause
  • Donors want to know how their money will be spent. Other charities know this, but environmental charities have struggled to provide an answer that donors can relate to.

The Future:
Environmental charities need to break their reliance on a small number of large charitable trusts and organisations. They need to find new donors, private donors and businesses, who will make a long-term commitment to make money available for several (at least 3) years. Funders need to understand that environmental charities are like any other organisation – they have overheads, rent, and bills to pay – so not every last dollar will go towards the cause. The perception that a charity must spend a minimum arbitrary percentage of its donation income on “the cause” is extremely damaging to charities (see the TED talk by Dan Pallotta: “The way we think about charity is dead wrong”). Charities need to employ and retain good staff by offering them employment stability and a fair wage.

Why You Should Support an Environmental Charity
Environmental charities are brilliant pioneers of initiatives: think recycling, saving dolphins or growing your own food – all first driven by charities.

  • They operate at local levels, so everyone (and you) can get involved; they know your town and neighbourhood, they live in your street, share your concerns– you can reach them
  • They are well connected, if they don’t know, they know who will
  • They have a respected voice that gets heard
  • They have experts who work and volunteer with passion, conviction and zeal in their respective fields (they certainly aren’t there for the money)
  • They are open and transparent, you can usually join and attend meetings
  • They can often speak out against governments, local councils and businesses
  • Environmental charities often act as ‘guardians’: they watch, listen and speak out on local issues
  • Environmental charities are independent: they do not need to pander to voters or shareholders
  • Environmental charities get involved in campaigning, education, policy formulation, submissions to government and local authorities, behaviour change, information dissemination and local projects
  • They are great advocates: they know you care, but that you are busy
  • Environmental charities like Nelson Environment Centre rely on donations, grants and sponsorship.

The environmental charity sector is tiny; they receive a fraction of what governments and businesses spend to further their causes/needs. Environmental charities have a strong record of identifying and tackling environmental issues. They can get involved, collect data, find experts, hold public meetings, comment on policy and act independently. If we are to tackle environmental issues, we can’t wait for governments, local authorities and businesses to act; we need to support environmental charities and environment centres to do their work. They need more funders who are prepared to commit to long-term funding for finding solutions. Private and commercial donations provide a powerful and necessary lever for accelerating action and change.

Please support your local Environment Centre – eating the eggs is up to you.

Nelson Environment Centre is an independent charitable society.

© J T0mlinson 2015. Based on the article “Green Philanthropy” by Bernard Mercer, 2007.

[1] “Tryptophan promotes charitable donating” by Laura Steenbergen, Roberta Sellaro & Lorenzo S Colzato. Cognitive Psychology Unit, Leiden University, Netherlands, 2014.

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