Stained glass offers a different window on the world

A true story about why the mending of a garden ornament has helped children living in an orphanage in Africa – a good cause dear not only to the heart of our Giving Back blogger Ron Banks, but also to that of the team at Solo Expenses – but he almost missed the chance. Ron takes up the story…

OK, I’ll admit it; I’m a dabbler. I get involved in all sorts of things because they interest me, and they’re different from what I used to do for a living.

At my age, I need to get involved in as many as I can; I’m not getting any younger, and in a strange way, the older I get the less I seem to know – which is just an odd way of saying that the older I get, I realise there are more and more things I hadn’t the faintest idea about.

But I’m beginning to ramble. (Oddly, and a little worryingly, I’ve recently started doing that rather more than I’d like, but that’s another story). The purpose of this blog is to highlight how dabbling in one area made it possible to get someone else to help one of the most worthwhile charities I can think of.

A friend had a garden ornament made from glass, which had been broken. Knowing that I dabbled in stained glass work, and therefore had lots of coloured glass in the garage, he asked if I could fix it, which I was happy to do; almost as happy as he was when he saw the result. Then he took me by surprise by asking how much money I wanted for doing it. Hastily working out the cost of the materials, I quoted him a price. “Nothing,” I said. (You can see why I was never going to be a millionaire). But why would I charge him anything at all? What I’d used were offcuts; odds and ends that were of no value to me and would therefore ultimately have found their way into the bin. He wasn’t happy. I could see it in his face. Nevertheless, we left it at that.

That light bulb moment
However, fifteen minutes later, he was back with another question: “What’s your favourite charity?,” he wanted to know. A light bulb came on above my head (well, it would have done if I’d been in a cartoon). “The Footprints Orphanage in Kenya,” I said, and he immediately promised to make a donation in my name.

The point of this story is that there are always people in need, and there are always ways in which you can help, even if the connection isn’t immediately obvious. What was of virtually no value to me, until I needed to mend a garden ornament, turned out to be hugely valuable to children I’m never likely to meet, through the catalyst of a good turn I did for someone else.

Now that’s clever!
That’s what makes the Giving Back initiative, started by the producers of the expense manager app Solo Expenses, so effective. There are other examples of the same sort of thing from other charities. But what I like so much about the Solo Expenses approach is that it’s much smaller than some corporate giants, but its creators have chosen to support a range of charities, and make donations from their company revenue – and here’s the clever part: because of the money management app’s capability and its ease of use, the people who use it are actually saving money for themselves by investing less than £2.50 a month. I’d call that a real win-win situation!

The good causes Solo Expenses supports are varied; the Kenyan orphanage, a not-for-profit theater group, organisations supporting the blind in India, and sponsoring a dolphin – they’re all in there, and you can read more about them in these pages.

My connection with a good cause, this time, was through mending a garden ornament. You probably haven’t got scrap glass in your garage, and you would probably have no reason to use it if you had – but I’ll bet you could use a little more money, which you could have by cutting wasteful spending and becoming better at money management. The first step towards that is by downloading the Solo Expenses app. Sure, it was created with sole traders in mind, but its flexible enough to work for individuals as well. Find out more about it here.

Picture: Helen Hotson via Dreamstime