Opinion: A small amount can make a huge difference at this time of year
It's the time of year when we give each other gifts and many charities try to tap into the sense of goodwill by running their main annual fundraising drives.
We Irish have a well-founded reputation for charitable generosity. But various controversies have had a negative impact on overall donations.
Of course, there are those who say that we shouldn't give at all. Not just because of the looming pensions time bomb but rather because - see Oscar Wilde's socialist essay The Soul of Man - altruism doesn't solve problems like poverty but actually prolongs it.
But, until the arrival of an absolutely just world, who should we give to? Most people want to help but nobody wants to see their hard-earned dosh and goodwill exploited.
Perhaps there should be an order of "absolute neediness" and aid would be distributed in that order? But there are different views of need. I might think a human life should always come first. Others might prioritise dog welfare or an acre of rainforest.
Even among humans, how to decide? Does someone who is starving always come before someone with a life limiting condition? In terms of poverty, some feel that charity begins at home while others are more struck by extreme deprivation in developing countries.
Almost 10pc of the world's population, over 700m people, live on less than the World Bank standard for extreme poverty of US $1.90 per day.
So how to measure how good a charity is? Even if you were to study a set of accounts, which most of us don't want to do, would you be able to work out how "good" they are. I certainly wouldn't. Whenever irregularities are uncovered it is often by a team of investigative journalists.