Charities and Donors at Risk of Con-Artists


Recent news of the Charity Conman “ … who posed as a cancer patient and scammed millions of dollars from a wealthy woman has been jailed for four years and eight months.” 

How he went about swindling his victim should surely raise awareness of the risks and ways in which charities can mitigate it. For donors it sends a clear message that they must make sure they know who they are dealing with; that they should watch for emotive stories, stories that pull at heartstrings. 

I’ve previously written about “Do low lifes damage the credibility of charities? And When Disaster Strikes – Opportunists hoping to raise awareness of what risks charities can face when appealing for funding, what risks too that donors can face when unscrupulous people try and seize an opportunity to play on the emotions of others. 

“Tuba” as some people knew him, played on the emotions of his victim, he played the use that he had lost everything and that his life was in the balance. There’s probably many people reading this who have seen or heard of similar ‘tricks’ being used to con money out of the unsuspecting. 

You’ve no doubt seen letters, or received phone calls asking for your help for some cause or another; often the letter or call is structured in a way as to pull on the heartstrings of the recipient. Using phrases such as “we really need your help, without it little Samantha may miss out …” or, “it’s only with the help of people like you that children like Emma can get a chance to …” 

When a child’s name is used it almost always plants mental image in the mind, when we talk of a serious health issue it does the same, often too bringing to mind a friend or family member who may be or have been in a similar situation. 

For charities some clear lines should be drawn between being factual, putting the case, the need to for support and playing on the emotions of others. Emotion sells, there’s no denying it, but lets not go overboard with it. 

For donors, when you feel you’re being ‘sucked’ in, that your emotions are being played with – perhaps it’s time to take a step back, take a breath and think before pulling out the credit card or cheque book. 

Charities and those working in the sector, must do checks on employees, you can’t afford to have someone with bad intentions who could bring your organisation into disrupt, remember people see one charity as representative of the sector; so your name being tarnished has the potential to tarnish the sector as a whole. 

Donors, remember to ask questions like, who are you? How do I know this is genuine? Where does the money go? But above all don’t let emotive language or spin effect your reason for giving – know why you’re giving.


Prostitutes or Clients – How do you treat your donors?


This post originally appeared on AdageBusiness last November, and since it appears to be an area of discussion again I thought I’d share it here. 


Prostitutes or Clients – How do you treat your donors?


If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet from michaelchatman “Do fundraising professionals treat their donors as clients, or as people waiting to be CULTIVATED like land, or SOLICITED like prostitutes?”    

This raises a really good point, how are organisations treating their donors? Are they just going out cap in hand to them when they need their support, or are they keeping them informed, or inviting them to participate in activities rather than as just money wells?  

The more donors feel as though they are ‘part’ of what you’re doing the more they are likely to remain donors over a longer period. Donors have a lifecycle no different any customer to any business, you need to work with them to increase they’re life-cycle.  

So often charities are only approaching their donor base when needed, this isn’t connecting with them, and it’s not giving them reason to be more a part of the charity, and has the potential to turn them off.  

We know if we want the most from our garden, we have to cultivate it. It’s no different to your donors, the more you’re able to help them to help you (cultivate them just like we do with our land), they will grow and flourish, they’ll stay with you longer, and are likely to want to be more involved than if you were only to contact them when you needed them (“more money please”).   

Donors don’t like being treated as prostitutes either; a quick fix for a cause, approaching people for help here and now, with no thought for future opportunities for both you and them. 

If you want to build our donor base, it’s important that potential, and current donors know that they are valued, that you want them to be ‘part’ of the cause; not just a money well. 

The more interaction with donors the more they are likely to value you and talk to others about what you’re doing, they will become ‘ambassadors’ for your cause. 

Get your donors involved, don’t just hit them up for a quick fix; they’re not prostitutes.

30:30 Challenge – WaterAid

We all use it, we’re all dependant on it – water, to some it’s like gold. 

Having a shower this morning, I got to thinking how nice it was, then suddenly I thought about those in other places who didn’t have the luxury of running water, in some cases having to trek for literally miles to a communal water well to fetch their water. 

Then there’s the fact that every 30 days an estimated 120,000 children die from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.  

I had to see what people are doing to raise funds for water – and came across 30:30 Challenge. 

Run by WaterAid, which turns 30 this year, the organisation has “reached over 14 million of the world’s poorest people with access to safe water and more than 9 million with access to sanitation …” 

What is the 30:30 Challenge?

  “2011 is WaterAid’s 30th birthday year and to mark the occasion we’re asking companies and their employees to raise vital funds for our work by taking part in the 30:30 challenge. 

  “Simply pick one or more of our 30-themed fundraising ideas to take on as an individual or a team of colleagues with the aim of raising at least £30 per person taking part. If none of our ideas suit, then think up your own! And why not see if your company can match your fundraising efforts? 

“As well as helping us to build on our successes over the last 30 years and enabling us to reach even more people with access to safe water and sanitation, the 30:30 challenge is a great opportunity for employees to build team spirit and develop key skills, such as leadership and project management.”

Check the 30:30 Challenge Briefing Pack for more info.

Something like the 30:30 Challenge would be a great way to get individuals, families and companies involved in something that will benefit many. 

One of the fundraising ideas is to be sponsored to live on 30 litres of water a day for 30 days – something like the 30:30 Challenge has the ability to go truly global.  

I’m keen to give living on 30 litres of water a day a go, if others are.