Donated Goods for Charity

Do you run an op shop, a second-hand or other outlet to sell donated goods? If you do how do you handle it when you have to turn away items?

It’s a reality that not all goods offered can be accepted, with there being perhaps numerous reasons; being overstocked, hygiene regulations, state of the items and health & safety regulations. All are valid, but how do you deal with telling people who wish to donate that you can’t accept their items?

People could easily take offence unless the reason given is real, it’s delivered in a good way and that they’re reassured that their offer would normally have been accepted, and might be accepted at another time.

If people are only told “sorry we can’t take that” without an explanation they will feel offended and will be unlikely to offer donated goods in the future.

As many people use the web to source who best to donate goods to, it would make sense for organizations to have ‘donated goods’ information clearly visible on their site. This could include a list of items not generally accepted, goods urgently needed along with general information on what state goods must be in, regulations surrounding certain items (electrical) – this would make it much easier for those wanting to donate. No longer would they load their vehicle, arrive at your ‘store’ only to find out you can’t accept their goods.

How does your organization currently handle donated goods, what do you do when you’re ‘overstocked’ – do you offer suggestion on who might be able to take them?

Make it easy for donors to donate and make it clear, simple and give solid reasons as to why you might not be able to accept their items.

Celebrity Ambassadors and Political Activism

Most charitable organizations have a celebrity or two as ambassadors, why not they can open more ‘publicity doors’ than anything the organization may be able to on it’s own.

But, what happens when a celebrity ambassador gets involved in a highly visible political protest?

More often than not most charitable organizations that are working at grassroots level in the community are a-political, sure there are aspects of what some do in the community which results in them lobbying their local members of parliament, but on the whole most would generally steer clear of political debates away from their area of ‘expertise’.

So what happens when a celebrity ambassador joins in and becomes a ‘focal point’ of another ’cause’ that is highly politically charged, that has the potential to have widespread media coverage and that could result in people talking about not only the ’cause’ but, also the ‘ambassador’ and the organization they recognize them supporting.

Can this have a negative effect on the charity, is there potential for donors who may not support the ‘other’ views of the ambassador to walk away from the charity?

Is there a point when the charity must say something either to the ambassador or it’s supporters – or is it best let things be?

Whatever is or isn’t done, its important to remember every person, no matter who they are or what they do – has rights – so if anything is done, it must never on those  individual rights.

Does your organization have a policy about what ambassadors can or cannot do, how do you monitor it? 

Non-profit groups need to be vigilant about fraud – survey

The NZ Herald story “Non-profit groups need to be vigilant about fraud – survey” looked at results from the BDO Not-for-Profit Fraud Survey, which showed a drop in fraud within the sector. 

The story stated that “BDO partner Andrew Sloman said despite the survey showing a fall in fraud from 19 per cent six years ago to 12 per cent now, it was likely some fraud was going undetected.” 

And it likely is higher as organizations could be reluctant to ‘notify’ due to a concern that it could tarnish their reputation. 

In May last year I wrote Charities and Donors at Risk of Con-Artists and have also wrote Do low lifes damage the credibility of charities?

Both looked at cases of fraud, dishonesty – call it what you may, the losses charities and those who benefit from the work of them haven’t been insignificant; and looks like they’re still continuing.

Something needs to be done to prevent internal fraud taking place, full background checks must be done; if any candidate doesn’t like it – then you don’t want them working for the organization. 

Not only do the scumbags who fleece charities harm them directly, but they’re tarnishing the entire sector. When stories of what some have done break – people become concerned and wonder if they money they are giving is getting to where it’s meant to be. 

Everyone working in the sector has to do their part to help prevent anything that can cause doubt within it – whether it’s being vigilant in their local community for unscrupulous collectors, or bringing suspicious activity they see in their organization to the attention of someone. 

What’s happening in your organization – what steps have you, or are you putting in place to prevent fraudulent activities? 

As a donor, what would you like to see happen – can anything be done?


Go Invisible to be Visible

Remember the times you’ve repeatedly seen something, a style of dress, a television ad, a colour of car, any number of things; then it becomes ‘ordinary’ nothing special – you don’t notice it any anymore, you switch off.

Can the same happen in the nonprofit sector, can organizations be too visible that people switch off, making it harder for the organization to be seen, heard and supported?

Perhaps it could pay for an organization to go invisible, go under the radar for a period of time, perhaps only a month or so – it doesn’t have to be a anything more, just a period of time to ‘test the theory’.

Why the suggestion – it came about in a general conversation that turned to attitudes to giving and how people may perceive organizations that are constantly in the public eye, yet are ignored, that people may have switched off. That some may now shrug their shoulders and say to themselves ‘oh, them again’.

Brand managers, and those who have responsibility for keeping a brand visible will likely have a field day with this proposition, so lets see what thoughts are out there about the idea that people switch off and organizations suffer from being too visible.

Lets answer the question. 
Is it possible that an organization could gain more awareness by lowering their visibility for a period and ‘re-emerge’ – would it be likely that people would notice them more?


It’s not your money

Often we hear people talking about how much money a charity raises, how they’re spending it on, and how well paid management are – people are concerned about where their money goes.

There is no dispute that those working in and running charities need to be paid, that they should receive fair rates for the work they do, but the problem is some in the sector seem to be earning above what others are earning for a comparable role in the business community. Then there are those who earn substantial bonuses and other “compensation”.

When you hear of a people earning well over quarter of a million in salary, then bonuses, it makes you wonder if the money being given is being used for the purposes for which it is given. Surely this has to raise questions in the minds of those giving, and reinforces the need for charities to be open about where the money goes.

Accounts furnished with statutory bodies only show what the organization wants to show, a little creative accounting, organizational structuring can hide what some may not want the public to see.

Charities need to be mindful of how they’re perceived, if the wrong impression is given people may vote with thier wallets and donate elsewhere.

How is your organization perceived, are you mindful of how you look to those supporting you?

See also: Are you being robbed?




Time Warp

Sit back, play the music but try and avoid watching the accompanying video 



Ok, it may not totally fit, but lets have some fun for a while, then let’s get serious about how we spend our time.

How often have you gotten to the end of the day, felt exhausted – but in reality you haven’t actually achieved as much as you could – chances are you’ve done it often.

With all the good intentions we may have to get through certain tasks, the chances are we’ve gone through the motions but not actually attempted anything.

Put your hands up if you’ve ever done anything like Carla Young suggests in – Avoiding Fake Work Projects :

When I first started working from home, I established basic productivity ground rules: no extended personal calls during office hours, no watching daytime TV and very limited time for personal tasks. Imagine my surprise when I realized that even though I stuck to the ground rules, I had put in a long day with very little billable time.

What went wrong? My suddenly-tidy desk told the story. It reminded me of how I decided that in order to be more productive I needed to get organized…right now! What I failed to acknowledge in my enthusiasm to gain more productive time was that I was also avoiding a particularly nasty project for a client I wasn’t enjoying working with.

I had created my very own (and rather convincing) fake-work project to avoid doing what I didn’t want to do. I was stuck between not really wanting to do the project and dreading firing that particular client, so I bailed on making a choice and found myself a convenient distraction.

I have to admit I’ve shifted papers from one side of the desk to the other – given myself a pat on the back for a job well done, then realised I’d actually not done anything really productive. I’d delayed, deferred, put off – yes, I’d procrastinated. 

We all need to think about how we spend our day, how much of the time we have in any day is actually spent doing what needs to be done, what generates income – chances are it’s a lot less than it could be. 

Now is the time to set some new priorities, that pile of unread magazines, the file of ‘reading’ you’ve downloaded can wait until you have the time. Perhaps you could look at setting aside a time of the week solely for this – don’t do it only to put off doing what can generate income, awareness or other productive tasks. 


Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Richard O’Brien



Your message, your interaction is important

The way we all communicate has an effect on people, and the words we use will have different impact, for sometime I’ve suggested to people and organisation not to use the word “just” – it’s a self put down.

Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing in a guest post on Nonprofit Marketing Guide has some other gems of advice … Top 5 Words to Avoid to Achieve Messaging Awesomeness.

Another “Every little bit helps” – this can cut right to the quick with people who give perhaps two dollars – that two dollars to them could be a lot.

Think about the words you’re using, are the creating a pleasant interaction, are they showing you as part of the community, are the inclusive?

Payroll Giving In New Zealand

Latest update on payroll giving


Since payroll giving was introduced, nearly $4 million has been donated directly from a growing number of peoples’ pay to their favourite charity or donee organisation. Read more



Since 7 Jan 2010 when Payroll Giving became an option, around $2 million has been given this way, is this a lower level of take up than was to be expected; from feedback received it would appear it is, at least from charity point if view. 

There is likely several reasons for the low uptake:

· lack of understanding on the part of employers 

· lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of employees 

· lack of promotion as a way to give by charities

There are likely other reasons, but for now we’ll focus on the points above. 

If employers are uncertain about how payroll giving works and how it can be implemented and promoted in the workplace how are employees going to get involved. 

There’s also the possibility that some employers may have only advised staff about the opportunity to give through payroll giving for organizations that were close to the heart of the company, thus making staff feel that they were the only options, therefore not giving staff the opportunity to support their chosen causes. 

With about 794,000 people in employment being committed givers (ie: making regular contributions of time or money to causes that are important to them), you would think that the amount being given through payroll giving would be higher than the current figure. 

It could be that people are still unsure about how payroll giving works, or it could be other factors – perhaps people are giving to their chosen causes already and don’t want to change they way they are giving, or are there other reasons? 

The (New Zealand) Charities Commission website has a wealth of information on payroll giving which organizations should be taping into to help them promote payroll giving as an option to supporters. Likewise employees could be accessing this information to help their employers learn and accept payroll giving in the workplace. 

Anyway that improves, makes it easier for supporters to give will help ensure they are active and regular givers to causes – if we’re already supporting a cause through payroll giving, we should be telling others about it.    

As a cause are you actively promoting payroll giving as a way to donate?

Are you giving through payroll giving?

Is your workplace active in payroll giving?


Txt Giving – It’s a valuable option

Making it easy for donors to give is important with so many causes seeking the charity dollars – and with the amount of mobile phones in the market, it only makes sense that charitable organisations adopt and promote txt giving as a means for supporters to give. 

A recent study undertaken by Pew Institute shows how txt giving is being used and the impact it has, the people who gave. 

What is the current situation in New Zealand – are organizations using it as an option, if so what types/sizes of organizations are using it? 

Here’s the summary of how “Text to Haiti” went … 

Report is first in-depth study of mobile giving

Some highlights: 

Two thirds (64%) of American adults now use text messaging, and 9% have texted a charitable donation from their mobile phone. 

The first-ever, in-depth  study on  mobile donors –which analyzed the “Text to Haiti” campaign after the 2010 earthquake—finds that these contributions were often spur-of-the-moment decisions that spread virally through friend networks. 

Three quarters of these donors (73%) contributed using their phones on the same day they heard about the campaign, and a similar number (76%) say that they typically make text message donations without conducting much in-depth research beforehand. 

Yet while their initial contribution often involved little deliberation, 43% of these donors encouraged their friends or family members to give to the campaign as well. In addition, a majority of those surveyed (56%) have continued to give to more recent disaster relief efforts—such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan—using their mobile phones. 

Mobile giving is often an ‘impulse purchase’ in response to a major event or call to action,” said Aaron Smith, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet Project and author of the report. “These donations come from people who are ready to give if they are moved by what they see and hear.”

Charitable giving in the mobile age is a social activity that occurs primarily through offline channels. Of those who encouraged a friend or family member to donate, three quarters (75%) did so by talking with others in person—that’s twice the number who sent a text message encouraging others to donate (34% did this) and more than three times the number who did so by posting on a social networking site (21%). 

Six in ten of these Haiti text donors have not followed the ongoing reconstruction efforts closely after making their donation, and just 3% say they have followed these efforts “very closely”. Additionally, a sizeable majority (80%) have not received additional follow-up communications from the organization that received their donation. 

These donors utilize a range of methods to give money to the groups and causes that are important to them. When asked how they prefer to make charitable donations, these donors prefer text messaging (favored by 25%) and online forms (24%) only slightly to mail (22%) and in-person donations (19%). Voice calling stands out as the least preferred option, as just 6% of Haiti text donors prefer making donations over the phone. 

“These findings have vast implications for non-profits, other cause-related charities, and even philanthropists,” noted Rob Faris, Research Director for the Berkman Center. “The age of mobile connectivity is creating a new class of networked donors who learn quickly about tragedies that occur anywhere on the planet and respond immediately.” 

“The Red Cross campaign showed that innovation can have a transformational effect in crises,” said Amy Starlight Lawrence, Journalism and Media Innovation Program associate for Knight Foundation. “This survey, which details the story behind millions in donations, should help other non-profits develop powerful new tools to fund and execute their missions.” 

The study also finds that these mobile givers are younger and more diverse compared with other charitable donors, and differ significantly from the overall population when it comes to their use of technology. They are especially likely to: 

Own an e-reader (24% do so, compared with 9% of all US adults), laptop computer (82% vs. 57%) or tablet computer (23% vs. 10%). 

Use Twitter (23% of the Haiti donors we surveyed who go online are Twitter users, compared with 12% of all online adults) or social networking sites (83% vs. 64%). 

Use their phones for activities such as accessing the internet (74% do so, compared with 44% of all adult cell owners), taking pictures (96% vs. 73%) or recording video (67% vs. 34%). 

Read the full Real Time Mobile Giving Report 

It’s accepted that when it comes to giving at times of disasters and when large numbers of people are in need that people will get on board, they’ll give more readily than perhaps at other times, but the results of this study show that people do give via txt and that this should be encouraged as a way to give. 

What is your local experience – are people giving via txt or are they still giving the more ‘traditional’ ways? 

Is your organization looking at txt as a means to help people make donations? If not, what needs to change before you will? 

Do you give by txt – if not why not?