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?

Getting to the Decision Maker

Most of us hate having to go up the ranks to speak to the person we need to that is ultimately responsible for making the “decision”.

But, in reality going up the ranks can be a plus.

This article from Infinity Sponsorship is a great read How having to work your way up to the sponsorship decision maker can, in fact, be the best approach!

Take the time to read it, I’m sure you will gain some insights.

Is there Competition in Sponsorships, Collaborations?

Something that I’ve been pondering (again) and something that was recently raised with me was the issue of whether you can have more than one sponsor for your organisation from the same “industry”?

I recall a few years ago when an organisation I was doing some work with had an approach from a professional service provider who wanted to get on board and help the organisation, but as there was already a sponsor from the same profession the CEO and Board were hesitant to accept the offer.

The company made several calls, sent numerous emails and eventually they were invited in for a meeting to further discuss what they wanted to offer; when it was suggested to them that their “competitor” was already a sponsor, all eyes lit up. Not the charity’s, but the reps from the business. They could see an opportunity, not selfishly, just an opportunity that could work toward something more favourable for the charity.

Eventually the company’s offer of support was accepted and they produced a great service offering to the charity and those who were benefiting from the work of the services provided by the charity – it was a win win.

A further win was when the two “competing” companies met at a black tie dinner and discussed how they could work together to further enhance the work of the charity.

They started working together to build on the work of the charity, they developed a new funding model and – they laid down a challenge to one another, an annual sports challenge between the two companies. This raised significant funds for the charity, raised morale within the two companies and created other opportunities.

So, to cut a long story short, don’t shut the door on an offer of support until you have sat and carefully looked at the offer from all angles. There’s more than likely positives to come from having “competition” in your sponsorship ranks.

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?

Philanthropy – Truly Selfless or Not?

Great article in Idealog magazine recently, and had to share it here.

Should philanthropy be truly selfless?
Opinion: At a time when our daily news is full of stories about communities in need, the international impact of the refugee crises, and child poverty closer to home, why are businesses giving less?

Philanthropy New Zealand’s recent report, Giving New Zealand: Philanthropic Funding 2014, shows that corporate philanthropy is down, suggesting kiwi businesses simply aren’t as generous as they were. The Harvard Business Review was saying the same thing about US corporates almost 15 years ago.

At a time when our daily news is full of stories about communities in need, the international impact of the refugee crises, and child poverty closer to home, why are businesses giving less?

In 2002, in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer put it down to executives finding themselves in “no-win” situations; “caught between critics demanding ever higher levels of corporate social responsibility and investors applying relentless pressure to maximize short-term profits.” They claimed that “justifying charitable expenditure” was becoming near impossible.

Read the full article on Idealog

Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

We know we feel better when we give, we know our gift will help make life better for those receiving support through our giving. But what we probably didn’t know is that giving, as neuroscientists have found is that the decision to give activates the brain’s pleasure centers similar way to what eating chocolate or having sex does.

Ok, you probably shouldn’t start a campaign with ”Help us to help … It’s just like sex”, but knowing the effect of giving on peoples brains should give you insight into how to capture an audience.

Have a full read of what Freddie Pattisson says on his post on nfpSynergy

A Few Things to Consider

We all want to know that the organisation we are supporting, or wanting to support is doing good, that it is meeting it’s goals, reaching the people it is there to help. But, it’s not always the case, some organisations aren’t meeting targets and are only scratching the surface.

How can we check if the one we are looking at supporting is worth sending money to?

There’s a few things to look at, sure there’s a search of the Charity Register, but this is only a superficial look at their income, expenses and a check that they’re complying with what they are set up to do. In essence the report you will find on the Register is simply a declaration, it doesn’t show what the organisation has actually done.

An organisations website will give you the ”fluff” about who they support, what they do, but does it really give you an insight into who it really helps? Sure, there may be some testimonials from people it has helped, but in reality these are often hand picked to give the best picture of the work done.

If you are considering giving support, and particularly so if you are looking at a major contribution, a lifetime contribution or as a key sponsor to look deeper.

It is suggested that you find clients of the organisation and have a chat to them, don’t only talk to the people the organisation has suggested you talk to, but some how find others who have used the organisation. These are more likely to be more open about the support, service that they received.

When talking with previous, or current clients of an organisation you will soon see whether the support they received was beneficial, did it change their situation, are they better off. All of this will help you work out if this is the right organisation for you to support.

Another thing to look at, is the organisation meeting its goals? This can be a hard one to judge, but you should be able to find out by the chats you have with previous clients, by viewing the organisations annual report (not the one on the Charity Register but the main one that most publish these days.) Even a search on Google will likely give you insights into the impact the organisation is having, don’t forget too, that a search through their social media activity will likely also give some good insights.

Something I have seen people do when looking at supporting an organisation, is to look at what other organisations are working in the same space, and seeing if these have or intend to work together at some point. Remember, there’s many organisations doing the same or very similar things, could collaboration, merger be more beneficial to everyone. It’s something worth considering when making a decision to support.

Another thing I suggest people look at, is who is put first; the client, staff or donor? If it’s the staff then you need to ask why? If it’s the donor, same questions; in my opinion the client of an organisation should be the one who is put first, if they are not, then is it an organisation you want to support?

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Has, and can, online fundraising have impact on other, more traditional fundraising?

From my perspective, yes it can have an impact; I’ve seen first-hand organisations who have had to change their fundraising methods, dates and more because people are giving in other ways to different causes.

It’s interesting that I started thinking about this late last night and, this morning I wake to see this subject in an article in the NZHeraldIs it safe to give a little?

“Kiwis give millions of dollars to causes on the fundraising website Givealittle. But money handed back by the charity platform from one controversial appeal has raised concerns over whether the online model is open to abuse. Phil Taylor reports ..

Some areas Phil has touched on are the same as I had started penning, so instead of rehashing what he’s said, here’s some excerpts from his article.

“Internet crowdsourcing is changing the face of philanthropy. Platforms such as US-based GoFundMe and New Zealand’s Givealittle super-charge the amount that can be raised, no more so than for causes that pull heartstrings. If mainstream media picks up a cause, a zero or so might be added.”

“Causes that top the lists for dollars donated and number of donors are all from the past 12 months and reflect the sector’s exponential growth worldwide. More than half of the $32 million given to Givealittle causes in its lifetime was donated in the past year. When teleco giant Spark bought it in late 2012, it was doing about $55,000 a month. Last month it did $2 million.”

Read Phil’s full article here

See also 6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever

See also Digging deep for Kiwi generosity

Charities Ignore Donor Preferences – Study Says

An interesting read in this article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Charities Ignore Donor Preferences, Study Says

Donors and the nonprofit organizations they support financially have different views on optimum fundraising and communication practices, and that disconnect results in lost donations, a new study has found.

Nonprofits were 10 times more likely than donors to say that their organizations are not communicating enough with supporters, while donors regard the information they receive from charities as adequate or, in many cases, far too frequent.

The study, which also examined differences among four generations of donors, found that most charities use only one piece of information — how much each person contributes — to shape the communications their supporters receive while ignoring other important factors.

About 55 percent of millennial donors, ages 18 to 34, said that text messages from charities were desirable or acceptable once in a while. That percentage declined with age. Forty-two percent of Generation X donors, ages 35 to 50; 24 percent of baby boomers, ages 51 to 69; and 9 percent of seniors, 70 and older, approve of text messages.

And while nearly 80 percent of millennials said they would welcome or accept occasional thank-you gifts from charities they support, fewer donors in each successive generation said so, with only 48 percent of seniors open to getting thank-you gifts from the charities they support.

Continue Reading here

Executive Success: Company oils wheels of charity

When the charity her business was supporting kept emailing to ask who she was, Sarah Townsend knew it was time to make some changes.

Townsend loved the ethos behind the environmental charity 1% for the Planet, which seemed to be a natural fit for The Aromatherapy Company, the home fragrance brand she co-founded 25 years ago.

But to the well-resourced New York organisation, The Aromatherapy Company was just a very small dot in a very big world, says Townsend.

“I think they do a fantastic job but they didn’t even know who we were or what we were doing so I just sort of felt that really we could manage the 1 per cent better within our own community.” She looked around for a local equivalent, but struggled to find a strong organisation with good infrastructure that wasn’t already well supported.

Read full article on NZHerald