Own up: Are you a giver or a taker?

For all the colours creeds, and backgrounds of people on the planet, they can all be divided into just two groups, says Ollie Banks’ dad Ron – and the world would be a better place if more people could be convinced to be change makers and switch from one group to the other, he says. We wanted to give him space to tell us what he means; this is what he wrote.

With a houseful of people gathered around for lunch a few weeks ago we’d all eaten a meal, and my granddaughter Alice was going around the room with a large box of chocolates, offering one to everyone there.

They weren’t her chocolates; they were her Grandma Lorna’s. Alice has only just started school, so she’s not in a position to buy any, but that wasn’t the point. Anyway, Lorna was tickled pink to see what she was doing.

The point is that even at that early age, Alice had grasped the concept of sharing; of making sure that everyone was included, and could all benefit from what her Grandma had a lot of, and which didn’t make her poorer as a result.

How unlike the teenage child of the family living next door to us. I’ve been in their house and seen him, wearing new jeans and trainers bought by his parents, and watching their TV whilst sitting on their sofa, open a bag of sweets and announce: “I’m not sharing.” I bit my tongue, of course, thinking it rude to point out that he was indeed sharing; sharing the contents of his parents’ bank account, but so oblivious to the source of his good fortune that he wasn’t prepared to give them a toffee. At that moment I couldn’t think of anything more mean spirited and selfish.

And that reinforced my belief that there are only two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. No matter how much they have, or indeed don’t have, the givers will share it. And by the same token, the takers will be only too pleased to accept. And if it’s not offered, they’ll go ahead and take it anyway.

I can imagine next-door’s teenager going through life with a sense of entitlement; a belief that what’s his is his, and what’s everyone else’s is his too.

Giving back
And that’s why it’s so refreshing to see a company, which has a whole host of things to worry about, going out of its way to be amongst the givers. I’m not talking of corporate sponsorship here; the way companies hurl money at major sporting events to get their name in front of millions. I much prefer the Solo Expenses approach, under its Giving Back banner. The company has chosen by far the best way to help. It’s not ‘helping’ others for its own benefit, which you might argue isn’t help at all (which is why it’s in inverted commas). No, Solo Expenses has chosen to help people who need it; people clinging to the edges of society because life has been unkind or even wicked to them. Solo Expenses is helping the orphaned, the blind, victims of sex trafficking, and those struck down by Alzheimer’s, amongst others. These are people who have very little voice, and struggle to be heard, but whose human rights are no less valuable than our own.

Help others
And what makes the Solo Expenses approach so good it that it helps others to help these good causes, simply by donating a little each month, every month, from company revenues. A dependable income from fundraising, however small, allows the delivery of sustained help that leads to lasting change. And for me, it’s even better because this is help for people they’ll probably never meet. We can all be donors, simply by becoming Solo Expenses customers, and doing a bit of good for someone, somewhere, who really needs it.

The givers will always have something for others, even when they really haven’t, as in the advert for chocolates, with its tagline: “Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?”

Here’s a message for the selfish teenager next door: Have you got so little that you can’t spare one single toffee for someone who hasn’t got one at all? I’d suggest it’s time to re-think your life.

So is it better to be a giver or a taker? And which camp do you sit in, right here, right now? Are you happy with your answer, or is it time to change?