Nonprofit Duplications

We already know that there’s masses of charities and non-profits in the community, no matter where you are, you’ll come across a non-profit of some description doing something close to your heart. 

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of non-profit organisations in the OECD; we have something like 30,000 registered charities, that’s a staggering number for a country of our size. 

What makes things challenging for donors is that there are a number of very similar named organisations doing very similar work. 

When it comes to charities and non-profits it’s difficult enough for donors to filter through messages asking for support and ‘selecting’ who they will support, but when there’s a number doing very similar activities it makes it even harder for them to make a decision. 

Wouldn’t it make sense for some of these ‘duplicated’ organisations to join forces? Surely, they’d be able to consolidate costs, be able to deliver more services and of course be able to potentially secure greater funding than they might currently be as individual competing organisations. 

Sure there can be difficulties in merging, egos will come into play, members may not want to vote for change – but is it the organisations ‘right’ to stand in the way of those they’re established to assist? 

Take a look at Merger Allergies – Redundant Associations Refuse to Wed – even though the majority of both organisations voted to support a merger, the numbers required were not there to pass the ‘resolution’. 

What’s happening in your area? Are you seeing duplication of services and those providing the services struggling to gain the support the need? 

As donors we perhaps owe it to those being served by the organisation to ask questions about the apparent duplication of services and ask why they’re not negotiating some form of merger with the other organisation/s.

It would be good to get some indication of what you’re seeing in your area; for example here in New Zealand I’ve seen up to three organisations providing help and assistance to youth with autism. There’s also a number working in the area of breast cancer (research, education and support), would it make sense for them to have a ‘round table’ and look at how they could possibly work better as one?

Can we continue to have so many organisation competing? I’d say no, we as supporters can’t and the sector as a whole can’t it’s duplicating while at the same time possibly diluting effectiveness.


Nonprofits and LinkedIn


One of the joys of subscribing to others blogs is sometimes you come across a post which is on the same subject as you were thinking about writing; and that’s just happened to here. 

I’d been asked about using LinkedIn by non-profit organisations, and was spending sometime searching and reading what others had said; when I received notification of a post on the NTEN blog titled – Leveraging LinkedIn to Prospect for Your Nonprofit. How appropriate and timely. 

This post is great, it gives some brilliant suggestions on how non-profits can use LinkedIn for connecting with professionals, joining groups, and much more. 

If your non-profit is using LinkedIn, we’d be keen to know – How are you using it? What is working for you?


What do people think when …


When we walk down the street and see someone sleeping in a doorway, what do we think? Do have a thought of disgust that someone is ‘messing up’ the area? Do we wonder if they’re ok? Do we wonder how the ended up sleeping rough? 

When we see someone with a young child in a wheelchair, drip and oxygen close by – what do we think? Do we look at the child with pity? Do we wonder about the illness the child has? Do we think about what the parent is going through? 

We all have thoughts – questions about what we see, but do we think about what how we could help them? 

How often do people see someone who appears “less fortunate” than themselves, that their own situation pales in significance to others around them? 

I would say the frequency of people having an ah-huh moment would be quiet high, but the follow through, the action taking place I’d suggest would be significantly less. 

Have we become cold, heartless, self-centred, only thinking about ourselves? Perhaps at some levels, but in the main I’m wondering if people are overwhelmed by the needs in the community. 

Look at the calls being made for help with natural disasters, famine – the BIGGIES, and see how much help is needed; it’s no wonder some people are “donated out”. 

How can we help donors to see they’re help is still very much needed at a local level? 

We can’t get down and beg (although there’s some I’m sure feel as though they need to), pulling at heartstrings isn’t always good and can come across insincere. 

The “normal” appeal messages may not be getting through as well as they once were – envelopes, door-knocks, emails, bucket collections are thick and fast, people are feeling inundated. 

There has to be a better way to reach out to the donor.

Social media is what charities must now seriously consider using to connect and engage with their supporters; and can be used for appeals, if done right. 

Over the coming weeks look out for Non-profits and Social Media, a series on how non-profits can make good use of social media tools. If you’ve any tips, case studies of social media and non-profits, I’d be keen to hear what you have to say and to share. 


© Erengoksel |


Fundraising Costs

A while back I wrote The Cost of Fundraising where I raised concern about instances where the cost of raising funds using external fundraisers has been substantial, with some reports of this being up to eighty percent of the dollars raised. How can this seriously be justified? 

I’ve started looking at charities on the Charities Commission website, and am horrified to see instance where a charity had income of over $4 million – distributed around $500,000 – but their costs were over $3 million – that’s 75% of the money they received from the community being ‘absorbed’ in operational expenditure. 

How can they justify that? 

Next time you’re asked for a charitable donation, take the time to check out who you’re giving to, look them up on Charities Commission, look at their annual accounts – and if it doesn’t stack up, either don’t give or give directly if you’re being approached by a ‘funding agency’.

Millennial Donors


After reading the opening paragraph on KANTER’S POSTEROUS I couldn’t help but think “isn’t that what most people look for when approached to give?” 

The para is “While the Millennial generation has often been characterized as wired always online, or texting addicts, the Millennial Donor Report discovers  that the key motivators to giving are trust, being asked by a friend, and how much they care about the cause.” 

What makes millenials (those born between 1980 and 2000) any different to anyone else? Sure, they’re more tech savvy (perhaps), they’re early adopters (perhaps) – but are they any different in how and why they give to you and me? 

Background on the survey to give some perspective 


“For the 2011 Millennial Donor survey, Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA) partnered with seven institutions. Each institution was provided a unique online survey link and the survey questions were identical across all partner institutions. The online survey was targeted at partner constituents between the ages of 20-35. The final findings from this survey represent responses from 2,953 survey participants age 20-35. Survey responses received from individuals outside the specified age category where segmented and omitted from the final survey findings and results. 

“Survey partner institutions included four higher education institutions (university/college), one national fraternal organization, one arts organization, and one human service organization. All partner institutions promoted the survey online, in e-newsletters, through social media, and print between January 1, 2011, and February 28, 2011. The survey link was deactivated March 1, 2011. All survey data was compiled and analyzed in aggregate form.” 

I’m wondering too if some of the survey data is skewed by the demographics of the respondents. Just take a look at “93% of surveyed Millennials gave to nonprofit organizations in 2010” to see what I mean. 

If the survey population had been representative of the community at large I’m sure the figure would be different. 93% of the millennials I know don’t give to charity, it would be more like 40%. 

Another interesting stat from the survey is that “79% of respondents volunteered for organizations in 2010, with the primary obstacle to volunteering being a lack of time, which was noted by 85% of participants who did not volunteer in 2010. 45% of the non-volunteers said they simply weren’t asked to volunteer.” 

Again, I’d doubt that anywhere near 79% of the general millennial population volunteer. 

Here’s another titbit which to me goes further to show that the data is skewed as it’s not representative “Overall, the survey respondents are generous: 93% of them donated to nonprofit organizations in 2010, with 21% of them giving $1,000 or more over the course of the year, and another 16% giving between $500 and $1,000.” 

Sure the survey does give some interesting data, such as:

Not guessing how millenialls like to give “Millennials’ giving showed a preference for personal, traditional requests over any single technological approach. Fifty-seven percent of respondents gave in response to a personal ask and 30% gave after receiving a letter via the mail, compared to the 49% that gave online and the 25% that gave via email. However, this doesn’t necessarily reflect how they prefer to give.”


Source: Millennial Giving Report

It seems as though the survey group are still traditional in the way they like to know and how the like to be approached about giving.

We all know that with an aging population baby boomers may not be able to continue giving in the same way they have – and that we need to be attracting “millennials” now, but we need more accurate information as to their giving patterns, what they need to know and how they want to give.

Read the full report yourself and see what you think, is it accurate – quite likely, is it representative, not likely.

If there is some other data available that’s more representative I’d be keen to see it, and am sure many others will too.

© Nikita Buida |




Stop, you can’t do that! – Are you dictated to by your Funding Agency?

Stop, you can’t do that; is something I’ve heard some charities have been told by the agency that does their annual fundraising.

Stop doing what? Simple, all they were doing was working to get some media exposure for their cause, for the work they do in the community and the people that benefit from their services.

But for some unknown reason their agency has said it isn’t to happen, that it would confuse people and that the work they do would get them the same, if not more exposure.

What’s better for the charity, to establish their own PR campaign or some agency who may not have the same media knowledge or contacts as the charity? I would say the charity should be doing all they can to help the campaign.

I know of at least one agency that hasn’t had any media exposure (positive) for over 3 years, and are of the mind that they don’t need it, that the numbers of people they contact is PR enough. I’d call that rubbish.

You would have to wonder why an agency would be putting blocks in the road preventing the very people they’re trying to help do something of a positive nature that could help the campaign.

Is it that some agencies are running scared – media shy in the event that questions are asked about funding sources and percentages retained? I’d say so.

If a charity is able to use stories, show examples of what they are doing in the community why stop them from doing so when it is likely to have the potential to increase support for them – why prevent they do all they can to help their campaign?

Is it short sightedness on the part of the agency? Can’t they see beyond any fears they may have? Or are they simply trying to usurp pressure on the charity – you want us to get you funding, then you play by our rules.  It’s our way, or it’s the highway!

As a charity what would your response be? Have you had any agency tell you to stop any activity during a funding campaign – if so how did you respond and handle the ‘request’?

How much is Needed?


It’s important for any organisation looking for donations to have a clear understanding of what they need the money for, what it will be used – and this need to be conveyed to the giving public. 

When charities are looking at their plans for up coming fundraising campaigns, it would be useful for them (and their donors) if they were to break their needs down into amounts that can easily be asked for. 

When asking for money, it’s generally accepted that if you ask for specific amounts, offer suggestions on giving levels organisations can have a better ‘return’ than those who simply ask for ‘support’. 

$20             will give a child school lunches for x

$50             will allow a child to attend a school activities for x

$100           will give a child school books for x

When people can see that their donation is “earmarked” for a specific purpose they’re more inclined to give – they can “see” a result, a benefit. 

Simply asking someone for a donation without saying what the benefit would be. How people are asked is important, the structure the request will make or break any appeal. 

The suggestions on How To Write The Perfect Fundraising Letter from Sumac make sense, and some of this can be incorporated into almost any appeal. 

What’s important is not to just ask for money, but to ask for specific amounts that can be ‘allocated’ to a specific item, project. 

Most potential donors, those who have warmed to your organisation, will likely be more receptive if they’re asked for a specific amount for a specific purpose. You only have to look at World Vision to see how this works well; sponsor a child for a $x per month = specific, you know how much you’re being asked for, it’s specific in that you know what it will be used for. 

The more charities start using this form of request the better, for them and for their donors – who’ll know what’s being asked of them.


© Bsilvia |


Encourage Supporters to Give Time

In philanthropy, we talk a lot about giving money, but giving time can sometimes be more satisfying & more valuable, such as volunteering. (As soon as I saw this on Twitter, I had to grab and use it – thanks Michael Chatman). 



Not everyone has money to spare, nor should we expect it of all supporters – there’s more ways people can help any organisation, perhaps supporters can be asked to give an hour of their time a week; others may have product or services they can give. 

Simone McCallum puts it well in her post “Lets Keep Our World Turning” – and she’s so right, organisations need people to help out, people to roll up their sleeves and chip in. 

There’s already many volunteer hours given each year, but with some wise thinking and planning the size of the volunteer sector will continue to grow. People see giving of their time as sometimes easier than giving money – and this shouldn’t be discouraged. 

Next time you’re planning a campaign don’t be solely fixated on cash donations; although it is acknowledged that this is needed – so too are skills and time that volunteers can give to your organisation. 

If you’re wanting to help in the community take time to look at how your skills and time can be put to good use; there’s organisations in every community that needs people to help them out. 

If you’re not sure where to start check local volunteer networks, likewise if you’re a community group needing help ask – in New Zealand there’s Volunteering New Zealand who can offer help, advice to community groups for all things volunteering. 

It’s time to start thinking how we can all take part as volunteers, how we can make a difference offering our skills. 

Next time you’re asked to support a community group and can’t give cash, will you instead offer time? 

Next time your organisation is planning its appeal, will you also take the opportunity to build your volunteer base? 


Risk Management – Mitigating Fraud

It’s staggering to think that since 2009, our courts (New Zealand) have successfully prosecuted cases involving fraud of more than $3 million from charities. That’s a massive amount lost, taken – nah stolen from organisations trying to do good in the community. 

This does not include the recent prosecution of the charity worker who stole millions from an elderly woman, adding another $2.4 million to the sum stolen. 

Grant Thornton’s  NFPs Failing on Risk Management: NZ Report  highlights the lack of formal risk management, surely the sector needs to tighten up, individual organisations need to ensure they have good polices and practices in place. 

It’s time the sector looked at how to improve itself, the more ‘bad news’ the public hears about the sector – frauds, thefts; the more the potential the sector has to lose support it so badly needs from the community.

What are you doing in your organisation?