Charity and the language we use…

Just came across this piece from RSM – and thought it a good piece to share, it’s worth the read.

What’s in a word or a phrase?  Well sometimes a lot.  Whether we appreciate it or not much of the language we use carries considerable extra weight and meaning due to history, perceptions, and baggage connected with it.

I was fortunate a while back to attend a seminar by Vicki Sykes on the topic of Business acquisition in the community sector in New Zealand.  Vicki is an interesting speaker and after 17 years as a CEO of a South Auckland charity she followed her passion to step back and do a University thesis on the topic of her presentation.

One of the quotes that Vicki used (and forgive me for not knowing to whom this should be attributed) was:

“Remember that being a charity is a tax status; not a business model.”

That line struck me as powerful.  One because of its simplicity.  But perhaps more so due to it making me question my use of the word charity.  There are so many assumptions we attach to a word.  These are built up over time and become unquestioned.  But when we sit back and consider them, sometimes we see that maybe these assumptions and perceptions we attach to a word can hold us back.

When I ask others, especially businesspeople, about the word charity as it relates to organisations, there seems to be a common understanding that this is an organisation that does good.  People understand that they exist to serve some social or community benefit.  The word charity is also associated with giving without expecting anything in return.  A very noble attribute.

Yet these understandings or assumptions about the word charity when considering a charitable organisation also seem to blinker some people in their attitudes towards the organisation and how it operates.

Keep reading here

What are your thoughts?

QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

On my way back from Christchurch to Auckland recently I got to talking to a couple seated next to me on the plane. They were intrigued by the book I was reading – Chapter One – we ended up have a good conversation about charity giving and the orgnisations they support.

So, seeing this from Greg Warner at Market Smart, is timely, and it covers exactly what the couple and I were talking about.

3 QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

  1. “What did they do with my money?”
  2. “Would my money yield more impact if I gave it to another organization?”
  3. “Do they make me feel good or bad?”

 

They said that they often feel some level of concern after making a contribution, mainly around whether the money they have given is going to the right organisation and that it will be used wisely and for the purposes the organisation said they needed support.

Do your donors have confidence in how you are using the support they are giving you, how do you allay any concerns they may have?

Volunteering, Why?

Why do people volunteer? There’s a myriad of reasons people opt to volunteer in their community.

The reason can range from giving something back to the community, giving time to an organisation that has helped them either personally or may have offered assistance to a family member.

Others volunteer to feel valued and part of a community; or to perhaps learn new skills.

There are cases where people may be directed to offer service in the community; often this is something ordered by a court. However, there are also times when a person who is receiving a form of Government assistance (benefit) may be asked to give time to a community organisation; in this instance, it is more than likely so as the person can gain a new skill and to add something to their CV.

I have even heard that some people volunteer as a way to do something different, to give them a break from their job. There’s some in this group who volunteer to bring their business/career skills to an organisation (pro bono).

Some people volunteer because they feel alone in their life, so a chance to volunteer gives them the chance to meet new people and a chance to socialise. And, if they are new to an area it allows them the chance to get to know others in their community.

Volunteering has been seen too as a way to improve on mental and physical well being.

Do you volunteer, if you do why?

Old Pugilist beat up

It’s not often I rant about an issue per se here, but after reading what Bob Jones had to say in the media yesterday (Tuesday 17 Jan 2017) I just can’t hold my tongue, or should that be my fingers.

Bob Jones, said in a report to media, as reported in the NZHerald that homeless people were essentially scum and worthless lazy buggers, sadly he doesn’t understand the reality and perhaps before he rants he should take timeout and sat and talked with some of the people sitting on streets asking for money.

I’ve spent many an hour speaking with homeless and beggars, not all homeless are beggars and not all beggars are homeless, they each have their own reason (story) for why they are where they are.

People like Bob Jones, and others who only want to moan, rant and say that people sitting on streets asking for money are scum and, more recently that begging should be banned, need to get their arses off their leather seats, and walk a mile (ok, a few metres) in the shoes of some people living off the street.

Unless we understand the whys of why people are living on and “off” the street then we can truly know what’s happening and how we can help.

We can all help, even if it is simply saying hello – don’t judge lest thee be judged.

There are people living on the streets who want to work, but because they don’t have a fixed address they can’t get jobs, because they haven’t been able to get a job for a few years they can’t get a job … drugs and alcohol are not the only reason, race is certainly an issue, but not the issue they are where they are at, the reason they are where they are at where they are is because of their race .. sadly we are still a racist country.

Yes, I’m angry, I’m angry because people like Bob Jones get to vent about people less fortunate but less fortunate people don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice, we need to sit and listen to them, to hear their stories and help where we can, they’ve been beaten down enough..

We need, nay, we must help lift those in need, we need to put our hands out, open our hearts do what we can to help.

 

 

 

Who’s in Your Advertising

We’ve seen it recently, and no doubt we’ll see it again, a community group using images that portray the peeople they support – yet, doesn’t actually use their images in promotional material, instead opting to use either stock photos or models.

Is it right or is it wrong?

We don’t see models being used for breast cancer campaigns, we see the real people. We don’t see models being used for promotional material of children suffering in far flung places, we see the real children.

So why, in the latest case models used in adverts for homeless charity a ‘kick in the guts’ has this organisation chosen not to use the real faces, the real people they are there to assist? Was it too hard, was it perhaps seen as possibly demeaning to use the real people; who knows. I’m sure they will have some spin out soon as to why, but for now all we can do is specualte as to their reasoning.

On the day the article appeared I heard homeless people talking about it, saying they felt cheated, that they are the real face of homelessness yet were being sidestepped, and they want answers.

I’m picking Lifewise will being getting a few visits from their clients asking why.
When you run your next campaign, will you use people representative of, from your organisation or will you get online and secure stock images, or call an agency for some models to portray the work you do?

If you opt to use people other than those you actually work with, be prepared for some flack, and possibly egg on your face when people start talking about it. And, sadly some of this talk will potentially end with your supporters voting with their wallets, taking their support elsewhere. Can you afford the gamble?

Giving Circles

Not something I have come across in New Zealand, although perhaps Rotary Clubs, Churches could almost be seen as a form of Giving Circle.

For those unfamiliar with what a Giving Circles is, this from an artiles on Nonprofit Quarterly sums what they are quite well.

Giving circles are voluntary groups that enable individuals to pool their money (and sometimes their time as volunteers) to support organizations of mutual interest. They also provide opportunities for education and engagement among participants about philanthropy and social change, connecting them to charities, their communities, and each other.

Have a read of the full article, Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up?

I feel there’s room for organisations to look at how they could help people to understand Giving Circles and use them to help build awareness of the work done of their organisation and, yes gain support.

Do you know of any Giving Circles in your area?

We can all help make a difference

On Sunday I spotted a post on Facebook asking people of the could help make Christmas brighter for people in need, by helping the Auckland City Mission.

As we all know not everyine has it easy at this time of year, the rent, phone, power still needs to he paid. Add to this the added needs of having children home from school, an expectation of Christmas presents, and families struggle.

In comes the Mission to offer what they can to help alleviate some of the added burden, but they can’t do it on their own, we need to help them.

And this is where the post I saw was aiming to help make it easier for the Mission and thier clients.

A simple request, essentially asking people to give what they could and a trip would be made to the supermarket to get items the Mission needed for their food parcels.

Well, it was a huge success, a read of how it unfolded, and while reading imagine if we all did something like this to help make the lives of others that little bit easier.

One Facebook Post Helps Over Thirty Families in Need

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m doing what many others are: Making a coffee, and browsing through Facebook.

In sharp contrast to the usual mundane nature of such things, a very special post appeared in my feed… An example of what one person putting the word out can achieve.

Earlier in the week, Reporter Megan Schoultz (NZ Herald) had written about The Auckland City Mission, and it’s challenges in coping with the demand from struggling kiwis, Nathan Elder saw for himself the shocking queues  made by the families in need, as he passed the Hobson St. drop-in centre last Thursday.

Read the full story here

Next time you see people asking if you can help, will you?

Building Blocks of Strong Nonprofit Brands

A while ago I wrote Branding; when a refresh is in order and had some interesting feedback, with many saying it’s important to look at a refresh of an organisation’s brand from time to time, but that often people are afraid to refresh as it can be seen as a waste of time, money and other resources.

I came across The Eight Building Blocks of Strong Nonprofit Brands on Nonprofit Quarterly and thought it was a great piece and wanted to share it.

“To some, the very idea of nonprofit branding is a vulgar topic. No doubt, the nonprofit sector should be about mission, about performance, about excellence. We all want nonprofits to get the support they deserve, and we may sincerely wish that effectiveness were the coin of the realm—but it rarely is. Not only are measures of performance imprecise in many fields, the metrics we do have are incommensurable across fields. For all the talk of social investing and venture philanthropy, the reality is that brands still dominate the capital markets in the nonprofit sector. Decisions about support are a function of what the public thinks a nonprofit is doing far more than what it actually knows about what the organization is accomplishing.

“So, what is a brand? It is the construct that stakeholders hold about the identity, including the character, of a nonprofit organization. It is the sum total of perceptions about what a nonprofit stands for, what it does, and how much social impact it is thought to achieve. Brands are connected to reputations, in that recognizable brands are often, though not always, associated with good reputations. Brands can be tarnished and reputations ruined after scandals or bad press—and in that case, the brand may endure in the awareness of stakeholders but it will no longer be able to contribute to the organization’s ability to pursue its goals. Should one be fortunate enough to have a great brand, protecting it becomes an absolute organizational priority. Arguably, it is the most valuable asset in the nonprofit sector, because it is the gateway to all other assets, both human and financial.

Read the full article here

Are They Unregistered and Fundraising

Have only come across this a couple of times, but it may happen more than I’ve seen.

Actually, from memory there have been times where people have been seen out on the street with buckets or clipboards asking for support for some charitable cause; only for it to be later discovered that it was for a group/organisation that had no charitable status (they stated that they were a registered charity).

If you’re approached by someone saying they’re fundraising or seeking support in other ways for a charitable cause; make sure they are registered, ask for proof, if they’re out in public they are meant to have certain information with them – and one piece of information should be proof of their charitable status i.e. charity number. If they don’t have this – walk away.

Recently I have seen an organisation seeking support and, also talking about the support that have gained; in their “storytelling” they have said that they are a Charitable Trust, but in looking they have no charitable status with Charity Services.

I know that this organisation has no registration, they applied to be registered but withdrew or cancelled their registration for some reason.

Not only can “organisations” acting in this way have the potential to impact negatively on the charity sector as a whole, it can impact on those who “endorse” them.

When an organisation trots out people or businesses saying that they are ambassadors or the like; and have those people front for it, the potential for them to have their “brand” tarnished is real.

So, if a word of or two of caution:

Check the charitable status of any organisation that approaches you for support.

Ask for details about how your support will help, who benefits, what it costs for them to administer their organisation.

If you’re approached to be an ambassador, or show your support for an organisation, do the above, but also check what visibility the organisation has, do some background checks.

What’s been in the media about the organisation, has there been any negative articles published?

Check the Trustees, who are they, what do they do apart from being a name with the organisation, you can easily use LinkedIn, Facebook etc for this.

Ask around, ask people you know if they know anything about the organisation, it’s Trustees etc.

So, keep alert, ask questions before supporting.

Remember it only takes one bad apple to ruin the lot.