In Faint Praise of The X Factor

The_X_Factor_New_Zealand_title_cardIt is brilliant that the X Factor winner’s single sales will go to support families who are going through unthinkably awful times, and that this has often happened. This is the third year that Together for Short Lives has been the chosen charity. The single will be the seventh charity release from The X Factor and the third winner’s single with proceeds going to charity following Sam Bailey’s number 1 hit release ‘Skyscraper’ and James Arthur’s million-selling release ‘Impossible in 2012.

So why only faint praise? Is this just more bah humbug? Well, my thought is only that this kind of fundraising is great, but so limited because the charity doesn’t end up with contact details, so it cannot develop a relationship with the song-purchasers, thank them and raise far more money when they really understand the charity.

For example, the X Factor could do much more by having on screen appeals for a donation to be sent by text with a text back thanking them and giving these donors the option to learn more. But why should they? Surely this is just family entertainment and dragging charity in to it just detracts from the fun, and is really irrelevant?

Simon Cowell says that he is delighted that The X Factor’s winner’s single sales will help families who are going through unthinkably difficult times, and he hopes the money will really make a difference. Which we all think, but that ‘hopes’ can be turned into reality by thinking how we can really connect people to causes they believe in.

The idea is to build helping others into the fabric of our lives not as a separate private act that rarely happens. Much as I hate the term big society, which has proved to be a cruel hoax in light of austerity hitting the poorest hardest, what I am suggesting amounts to society deciding it is going to be open about its needs and how people can help.

Once we are accustomed to appeals being linked to popular programmes we won’t find it irrelevant and the lives we turn around may be our own.

Let’s build a big society that really makes a difference!



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