Few of us achieve the ultimate goal of naming our occupation as philanthropist.

In addition to their vast wealth, what unites Andrew Carnegie, who spent his final years building libraries and endowing the arts, schools and universities, Ann Gloag, who has spent millions of pounds on charitable causes funding clinics and schools in Africa and Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation has a global reach befitting the tens of billions of dollars they have spent on healthcare and development programmes, is the ambition to drive their charitable work in their chosen direction.

Large bequests to charity, such as the £3.5 million recently left to the National trust for Scotland by Clovella Mutch in honour of the love her father, George Anderson, had for the north-east of Scotland, by contrast, are passive donations.

In cases where they endow a building or project that carries the donor’s name, it can seem that remembering the benefactor is almost as important as furthering the work of the institution or charity. Generosity, however, requires a different measure. £10 from a pensioner or someone on minimum wage can be as generous as a thousand times that amount from a multi-millionaire. Charities are feeling the pinch as a result of a fall in the value of investments and cuts in public spending. Welcome though bequests are, they need our money now.

As in other areas, a crisis can produce an extraordinary response. Already community groups which fear closure are finding new ways to raise funds. They are too busy holding jumble sales to make ends meet to worry about fancy plaques.

Glossier fundraising drives should adopt the same principle. When I send my pittance to a charity I don’t want it to spend money engraving the names of donors on a wall instead of furthering the good work. Let them honour the dead. Those of us alive and kicking should join the mega-rich in calling the shots.