Donate Your Dabble
I was sitting at my desk on Cup Eve contemplating my bets for the next day. I realised – but was totally unsurprised by the revelation – that I had no idea what I was doing. I was really just choosing some random horses.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with horse racing. It’s undeniably fun – getting dressed up, having a flutter, being with friends, enjoying the crowds – but there’s definitely a darker side. Not only is problem gambling a major social issue in Australia, there’s also the matter of the welfare of the horses. The perils of the horse racing industry are very well documented.
So instead of spending the $35 at the TAB on a series of bets that were as good as guesses, I gave that money to the RSPCA. Better to give that money to a charity that would go to helping animals than me donating it to a corporation when I inevitably lose the bet.
I posted it to Facebook, got a good response and wondered whether it could be taken further.
For the next couple of hours I built the #DonateYourDabble website, with the hope that I could inspire some others to give their Melbourne Cup sweep money to charity as well.
The premise was simple: Each year Australians gamble somewhere between $140 million and $296 million on the Melbourne Cup, and surely that money could go to better use. For most of us, it’s just a toe in the water – we wager on the Cup out of habit, and to be part of the day, much more than our desire to actually have a win. It’s not hard to imagine the impact on our society if even a fraction of that were to be directed to charities.
I listed a few animal welfare organisations, which seemed to fit thematically, as well as half-dozen others from a whole range of issues that I have donated to in the past, and published it online. The aim was to appeal to a broad range of philanthropic interests – including people seeking asylum, human rights, poverty and social justice, and support for problem gambling.
I also topped up my donation – to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – and asked others to give $50 to support one of the charities listed, or another that’s close to their heart.
The reception was massive. Within a couple hours the website had been shared dozens of times.
By 10am Tuesday it was up to a few hundred.
Once the race began, the website had been shared almost 1,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Australians with prominent social media followings had discovered and shared it.
Thinking about our actions on a day like Melbourne Cup is important. If #DonateYourDabble got even a few people to consider a different choice, then that’s a great result.
It’s not that gambling is per se wrong, and it’s certainly not to say that gathering with friends and colleagues for an afternoon off is a bad idea. But when we consider where those dollars – on new clothes, bets on the horses, and food and drink – could otherwise be spent, hopefully at least some of it can go to make the world a better place.
Let’s make #DonateYourDabble even bigger next year, and turn our once-a-year Melbourne Cup dabble into a statement that we can all be part of improving the world around us.