Sunday, June 17, 2012

Never Seconds - Some Thoughts

Martha Payne is a school girl in Scotland. With the support of her father, and a camera, she has been blogging about school meals. Martha's blog had also been raising money for 'Mary's Meals', a local charity that aims to provide school meals in many parts of the world.

I understand that the blog was originally set up as part of a school project.

All was going swimmingly well until a Scottish newspaper wrote an article about the blog "Never Seconds" that said some things in a not nice way about Martha's school meals. It is clear from Martha's writing that she is a bright and very polite young lady. The impression that I get is that her father is also very wise.

As a result of the not-so-nice newspaper article, the local council instructed Martha's school to prevent her from taking any further photographs of her school meals. At that point, Martha's JustGiving page had raised about £2,000 for Mary's Meals.

The photography ban caused a national and international firestorm, which resulted in Argyll & Bute Council rescinding it last Friday.

The publicity has been such that at present the funds raised by Martha's blog have increased to just over £76,500. That is phenomenal and is to be applauded. In just four days!

What I find somewhat charming is that Martha and her family have managed to keep a low profile over the last few days, with a simple blog post on Friday that starts "I think you know why I don't have a picture today....".

The other thing that I note is that Mary's Meals (a Scottish Charity No SC022140 which was rather boringly called 'Scottish International Relief' until the beginning of last month), had gross income of £7,624,426 in the year to 30 November 2010.

Mary's Meals is clearly a reasonably sized charity that seems to do fantastic work. I suspect that they will benefit both financially and publicity wise from Martha Payne's blog and from her fund raising.

However Martha's fund raising is so far about 1% of the charity's annual income (say half a week's worth). It needs to be kept in that perspective.

I hope that charity successfully manages the extra publicity and income. I wish Martha, her blog and her family well. I hope all involved in this story manage to keep themselves firmly grounded and worldly wise.

All power to the interweb!

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