Thursday thoughts: Guilt is a cancer, too…


charity 1I freely admit that I don’t know the ins-and-outs of fundraising.

I’ve been a charity fundraiser, back in my days as a student, and I regularly give to charities of my choice – but I’m not entirely up to speed on the arcana of modern fundraising.

However, I sometimes have to wonder if fundraisers have actually thought about the damage they do with some campaigns?

I remember hearing once that when people sign up to regular donations via ‘chuggers’ – those charity muggers that approach you in the street – as much as 80% of the first year’s donations are swallowed up in commissions to the chugger and on-costs by the marketing company.

So if you donate $20/month, the first $200 never gets within Coo-ee of the charity.

That was largely backed up by a story I read a few years back when I was working at Fairfax media.

But I still regularly donate to charities like Oxfam, and Amnesty, and the RFDS. I throw all my 5/10/20c pieces into a tin for the Cerebral Palsy League, and most years I doorknock for the Leukemia Foundation.

I often also donate to the Cancer Council of Queensland because its an issue close to my heart: my mother-in-law had cancer when she died, as did my dad .. my sister’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and I’ve had a number of melanomas cut out.

So, as I say, I’m well aware of the good work the Cancer Council does, and am a semi-regular donor.

Today, the Council sent me some gifts ..  a shopping bag, some to-do notes for the fridge .. and I am pleased to say that the accompanying letter, which was asking for donations, didn’t try to ‘guilt’ me into donating.

But as I was looking at that pitch, I was reminded of another, similar ‘gift’ that I received in the lead-up to last Christmas. And the Christmas before. And the Christmas before that.

They were from the Mouth and Foot Painters group (who are, in fact, a for-profit business rather than a charity)

They sent me a swag of Christmas Cards – unsolicited – and also urged me to send them money ($17 from memory), trying to play on my guilt if I did not.

Well, I didn’t order them, and I don’t send Christmas Cards anyway. So they’ve never got any money out of me.

And the same goes for those ‘chuggers’ who try to suggest that I am cold-hearted if I don’t support their cause.

But the ones who really annoy me are the reps from those charities that I DO donate to, who ring me periodically asking me to increase the amount I donate, or who want a special donation for this campaign or that … and who seem quite persistent when I say no.

I’m no longer working full time, and our income is therefore more constrained – so I have to say, the more charities push, the more likely I am to push back.

Just sayin’, charities – just sayin’.

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