Over the past five years, external fundraisers in Canada have taken in more than $750 million – CBC Investigates Your Charity Dollars.
You know it’s fall in Canada when the news media jacks up coverage of how much money charities spend on fundraising. They eviscerate charities — and their agencies — who spend almost as much as they raise. And Canadians respond. Story after story of disappointed, disheartened and disgusted donors.
Charities justify ludicrous fundraising expenses because slimy agencies make them believe this is what it takes to raise money.
This is a snake eating its own tail: charities who feel entitled to the support of their donors, and agencies who feel entitled to be in business.
As my fellow Agent John Lepp says “Donors don’t give to your charity. They give to your cause. You just help them.”
This year, I hope the media coverage is a rallying cry for donors.
As donors, we can and should:
1. Ask questions and insist on learning how your gift is put into action. Smart charities will delight in keeping you informed about how your gift is put to work. If charities aren’t proud to tell you what they are doing, ask. If you’re not satisfied with their answer, don’t give.
2. Give with your heart and your head.
This year, I also hope this is a rallying cry for fundraisers.
As fundraisers, we can and should:
1. Ask questions. Take ownership of your fundraising program. Your consultant or agency does not know your cause better than you. You may wake up in the morning intending to “do good”. But if you are not taking responsibility for that fact that donors are entrusting you with their gift, go back to bed.
2. Work with people you trust, who empower you and your cause. Who care about your donors, not your business. There are lots and lots of amazing, passionate and results-focused agencies and consultants out there.
3. Get ahead of this story. Establish and maintain a fundraising program that is transparent, honest and donor-centred.
And for you slimy agencies…this year, Agents are coming for you. Our army is growing. And this is my message to slimy agencies — and the fundraisers who hire you. Just like Cee-lo says: “I’m like, f*ck you, and uh, f*ck them too”.