Tuesday, 11 May 2010

When ten minus three equals thirteen!

Just caught up on a fascinating article in the Times Eureka Supplement last week - the cultural context of maths and the different ways the world counts. Despite a sense that counting is a universally agreed method - tell that to the Suyá people of the Amazon.

If you had ten fish and gave three away - how many would you have left? Most people in the western world would say 7. To the Suyá tribesman asked that question the answer is in fact 13. To him if he gave 3 fish away to his brother, his brother would have to pay double back in return - so to him it isn`t a loss but actually a gain.

“Why is it that ‘giving’ is always seen as ‘minus’ for white people?” another Suyá asked the researcher in the article.

A good question. And In relation to charitable giving probably one of the biggest in terms of how our supporters see their support and indeed what we as fundraisers are doing day-to-day to ensure they feel they are getting more in return than they are giving.

One day it would be great to see a charitable donation actually appear as a credit on the bank statement...instigated by our own supporters perhaps? But until that point it certainly made me think that if giving was seen in the same way as the people of the Amazon saw it - even more of the world would be happy to 'give' to charity. The fact that as fundraisers we have some control of this is a very positive thought indeed.

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