Pokies – feeding a habit to help those affected by it

And still the discussion around pokies continues, should the Government allow Sky City Casino increase the number of pokie machines in ‘exchange’ for a convention centre – in short – NO.

Why – we know community groups, charities gain income from pokie machine operators, but what about the people using these machines – low income earners, the marginalized etc. In some cases the organizations gaining income from pokie revenue are the self same organizations saying we need help to improve the lives of the impoverished, the marginalized, so can’t go without the prospect of income derived from these machines.

Having met pub owners who have pokie machines and heard the income the earn, and how they feel about the machines being “beneficial” and “needed” – no this wasn’t in references to propping up their business, but to the needs in the community, the people benefit through the monies dsitrubuted, I, like Sir Bob am gob-smacked and repeat his words “What outrageous hogwash”.

If you’re an organization helping people who have alcohol, drug, gambling or other issues that can impact on the family’s wellbeing should you be calling on funds from pokies? 

Sure funds are needed, there’s no denying that – but there are other ways to go about gaining the funding needed to fulfill the purposes of an organization than putting the hand out to an organization(s) that encourage people to use hard earned, and in many situations, much needed money.

Organizations can work with their supporters to build income streams that will soon negate the need to source funds from sources that are not seen as ‘beneficial’ – who are pokies beneficial to, the pub owner, booze suppliers, are the really that beneficial to the wider community?

Sure, there will be argument that pokies generate jobs, that they generate income for the wider community, but these ‘benefits’ need to be weighed against the negative impact they also have. And, organizations dealing with community ‘issues’ need to think where the money the get for fulfilling their ‘function’ comes from. Is ‘dirty’ money what they really want to be associated with?

Bob Jones in the NZHerald Pokies nothing to do with charity 

Teach children the importance of giving

As the population ages, and as other donors move on organizations need to look at ways of gaining younger supporters .

The ways this can be done are many and varied, but what we all know organizations have to get a younger generation on board . Sydney 

Kids in Philanthropy, will be involving children in all aspects of philanthropy guiding them through fundraising and the development of programs to help make a genuine difference to the lives of their peers living in Sydney’s disadvantaged suburbs.

In an article on Pro Bono Australia – KIP’s founder, Dr Catrion Wallace , said that instilling a sense of compassion and giving in children was a vital part of their development.

“Research shows a direct link between giving, good health and happiness,” Dr Wallace said.

“Yet we increasingly find kids in privileged suburbs have little involvement and awareness of how other children may live, even in their own city.”

We hear stories of some schools, children’s groups and individual children doing their bit to help organizations in the community, yet there are many children who don’t know about giving – who needs support, why support is needed or how they can give support.

Even adults who as children may have received support through community organizations don’t know how they can give, if they don’t then it’s unlikely their own children will have learned.

By educating and encouraging children to give not only are a new generation coming on board, but it’s highly likely that they will take what they learn home and talk with the parents – potentially inspiring parents to become more involved in the community.

How can we work with children and youth in our local communities to get them more involved – is it through schools, community groups (Scouts, Guides), churches or do we need to be looking at something like Kids in Philanthropy in our own area?

What are you doing to get kids, teenagers on board?
Have you heard of anything like Kids in Philanthropy in your area?

Please share your thoughts/comments.

Celebrities and charity endorsement

Something that often comes up when discussing getting attention for an organization is “who can we get to trumpet out cause” – “what celebrity has the most appeal we can use to help us?” 

Often I’ve wondered whether it’s appropriate to have celebrity endorsements, and have had some heated debates on the merits or otherwise of these types of endorsements.

One of questions I often ask is “why would they support, is it for their own purpose, or for the belief they have in the work of the organization?”

More often than not the responses are something on the lines of “they have the potential to bring attention to our cause” or “they’ll look good supporting us”.

When organizations only look at the pulling power of a celebrity do they have it wrong, or should there be more to it than the celebrity’s ability to raise awareness?

Should there be some ‘heart’ in why a celebrity endorses an organization?

I’ve seen cases where ‘celebs’ have been contacted to assist a cause, only to be told that it needs to be approved by their agent, and that a fee is required – in these situations it’s more a business than philanthropic transaction.

When reading “Most people take no notice of celebrities promoting charity messages, survey finds”  it made me wonder if this is the case the world over, or just in certain countries.

Majority of poll respondents have never been prompted to support a cause by a famous person’s endorsement or have been put off by it

Almost two-thirds of people take no notice of celebrities who promote charity messages or even find them off-putting, according to new research.

A poll of 2,842 people found about half took no notice of the celebrity’s message and a further 14 per cent were put off it. A third said they became more aware of the problem or charity and a small number were motivated to support the cause or change their behaviour. 

The research, commissioned by the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and the University of Guelph in Canada, found that 79 per cent of respondents had never been prompted to do anything for a good cause by a famous person’s message. Of the 21 per cent who had been motivated to act, 44 per cent had tried to learn more about the cause and 43 per cent had visited a website or clicked on a link.        

 Read the full story here


Some of the comments are very valid, such as:

“These are interesting findings. However, surely the flaw in this research is that it does not measure how many people were influenced through something they saw in the media which was only covered by the media because a celebrity was involved. The reason for using celebrities in a campaign is not always to gain donations, sometimes its to ensure that the campaign actually receives coverage. Unfortunately media coverage is becoming harder and harder to achieve, especially on broadcast media. The celebrity or famous people is the only assurance that the campaign will actually be covered.” (David Knight)

It would be a shame if this is the case everywhere, but unless organizations do some polling of their own we’ll never know.

Are you using celebrity to endorse / support / promote your organization, if so what benefits have you gained?

What would it take for you to support an organization promoted by a celebrity?

Do celebrities make you want to support or know more about an organization?


Empty shops – a blot on the streetscape, why not give them to charity?

There’s empty shops all around, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, London, LA – they’re everywhere, not only is this an indication of the effects of an economic downturn, but it can have another effect, it can says to shoppers “this street is past it use by date” thus affecting other retailers in the area.

Years ago I worked in Wellington, with a sizeable number of empty shops approached real estate agents, and suggested they offer empty shop frontages (windows) to nearby retailers for display purposes. It worked for a few months, not everyone liked the idea, but it worked, retailers had another display area, others could see the potential of the space and shoppers no longer felt they were on  deserted street – a win win.

But now I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great if landlords gave space to community organisations – along the lines of pop-up shops.

It would possibly give renewed energy to a street, it would likely attract potential tenants through talk about the landlord and the community spirit they had, it would also give pedestrians something to look at besides “for lease” signs – and yes, it would give community organisations a shop frontage to show the work they are doing in the local community.

If this were to happen, some ground rules would be needed – how these would come about would require input from local business, community and community organisations – the last thing anything like this would want to do is harm any current business – that would defeat the purpose.

I’ve mulled this idea for sometime, and have been rethinking it since reading “Reimagining the high street: how empty shops can become community hubs

Can this be done in your area? Can community organizations make use of vacant space – hell yea, all it will take is some imagination, some forward thinking on the part of landlords (and generosity), but it can be done.

How do you go about it in your area – contact local business associations, real estate agents, council – lobby them, put a case together. Remember they will all want to know “what’s in if for me” – so have this clear before making any approach.

Is this happening in your area, who’s doing it, who’s doing it well – what can others learn from what’s happening – please share your thought and comments. 

How do you protect privacy in your appeals?

Confidentiality is something that everyone in the nonprofit sector has to take into account when talking about the work of the organization, its people and sometimes this can be a challenge.

How do you tell your story if you can ‘talk’ about the people you are helping, how to do ‘show’ what you’re doing if you can’t show the people you helping?

Appeals that talk loosely about the people an organization is helping are less likely to grab the attention of your audience than those that tell real stories that talk about an individual and how the work undertaken has affected them – where organizations talk about individuals the response can be a lot higher than those that don’t. But how do you do this without breaching someone’s confidentiality?

The easiest answer is to always get permission, get permission as soon into the relationship as you can. One organization I work with advises all their ‘applicants’ that information supplied can be used for a number of purposes, including publicity and appeals for funding. This works well, it makes it clear from the outset – there’s no grey area, and as an safeguard before anyone is mentioned in any ‘public’ information they are contacted and advised what is planned and a second approval is sought.

When it comes to organizations that work with people whose confidentiality must be protected, it makes telling personal stories all the more difficult, but first and foremost confidentiality must be respected, and given.

In some instances, it can be relatively easy to talk about an individual whose name and anything that may identity them must be kept confidential. When writing it can be as simple as using another name, if doing this it can have more impact if you say from the outset that the name used is an assumed one e.g. “John – not his real name …” or, “I’ll call him John ” … or similar wording. 

In “Spare coins for food and a bed” – I was fortunate to get the chaps name and he said it was ok if I were to mention him by name so long as I didn’t say anything more than his first name or show his picture in the post. Had he not agreed I would have used an ‘assumed’ name.

It’s also important to write in a way that won’t give out anything that would identify the person, such as age, location, marital status, children etc – someone reading what you write may put two and two together, so using some creative writing and avoiding anything that could identify them is paramount. 

When it comes to showing pictures of people, it is important to ALWAYS have permission, if you do not have permission to use someone’s image then do not use it – simple. 

If you do need to use an image and the person you’re talking about can’t have their face shown there are ways around this – stock images can work, or use a silhouetted image, if you can use a pixelated image, anything that will help tell the story without betraying the trust of the person you are writing about. If you do use stock images or silhouetted images say why e.g. “We respect the privacy of the people we work with, so while their stories are true, we have changed their name, and  the images used may have been altered to protect their privacy.” 

One organization I work with uses a color coding system for name tags, everyone attending are required to adhere to the what the tags indicate and not take images of those wearing a particular colored tag – this has been in place for a number of years, and to date (touch wood) there’s not been any breach. If there’s a particular individual or individuals in attendance then guests are advised prior to the even that no photography or images using phones etc are permitted. 

It’s important that when dealing with people’s privacy, and safety, that rules are set, that everyone in the organization are aware of these. It’s equally important to be transparent with the people you are communicating with – that they know you have changed names, places, and other identifiers (incl photo’s) to protect the safety and wellbeing of the people you’re working with.

How do you help protect the identify of the people you work with when writing appeal letters, articles etc – please share in the comments below.