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.

Can Ambassadors spread themselves too thin?

How many organizations can, should, an ambassador represent, is a question I’ve been asked lately. It’s a hard one to answer; is there a maximum or even a minimum?

When you hear of some who is the ambassador for several organizations, the immediate thought could be “impressive, this person really cares” – other thoughts could be “what, a charity whore”.

I guess it all depends on what physical work the ambassador is doing as to how effective they can be when they represent numerous organizations, there’s also the issue of confusion by supporters.

Imagine this an example– Mrs Brown, a well known identity in the community, is the ambassador of five organizations. She appears in the media speaking of the work being done, she’s seen at fundraising events and is well know for tapping into her networks for assistance for the causes she ‘represents’.

Sounds good? Yes and no. The general public are already challenged with who they should support, there’s so many organizations in need of help. When they see Mrs Brown in the news talking about XYZ charity one day, then a few weeks later talking about another organization – do they, remember who she represents, or do people only recognise Mrs Brown?

Some have suggested that the “brand” they see is Mrs Brown, not the organization/s.

Maybe that’s true, maybe Mrs Brown is all people can recall, hopefully not – but, with the many organizations angling for attention, it is quite likely the name of the organization will be lost by those seeing stories.

Who’s to say how many organizations a person can effectively represent, but surely there has to be a saturation point – it’s anyone’s guess as to what that is though.

Do you know how many organizations your ambassador/s represent?

Would your organization select an ambassador who represented multiple organizations?

Ethical Donations

Should children’s charities align with alcohol suppliers, merchants, producer – does alcohol and children’s charities mix, or is it like oil and water at a moral level?

There are laws about sales of liquour, only people of a specified age can buy it, and it can only be sold by people of a specified age, tobacco too can only be purchased (in many places) by people of a certain age – advertising for these products is restricted to.

So I ask – is it ethical given the reason for restriction on the promotion and sale of alcohol for ‘public good’ – is it right for a charity or any other organizations established to support children to have as major “obvious” supporters who tout alcohol.

Sure we can argue the need for financial support, but – should ethics, morales, personal beliefs of office holders – the board, come in to play?

Is it as a wrong alignment – it’s not like promoting girl guide biscuits.

Sure, it can be argued that charity promotions, websites, direct mail campaigns and the like aren’t targeted at youth – but, the fact is that youth see them.

And, what about organizations who work with youth, and younger, who have a conditions caused by alcohol, ok, these organization probably don’t accept support from alcohol organizations; but it’s likely that other organizations who work with these same ‘people’ do accept the support.

And who can blame them; you, it’s all about getting support from the most “ethical” source, but it does have to be asked  – how do other supporters see this, how does the wider community your aiming to gain support from see it?

Is it time to take stock, can organizations afford to walk away from the “booze dollar”, or is there a way that this could be acceptable with restrictions on both sides?

Would you decline money or other support based on where it comes from?
Would you turn money away?


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? 

Are you supported by your board and staff?


How many in your organisation support the work you do? Do they show it, are they ambassadors, do they trumpet the work being done?

I’ve started thinking about this after visiting a few FaceBook pages of community, non-profit organisations and looking through their ‘friends’ I see that only a small handful of staff, and board members (also users of FaceBook) are ‘friends’. 

Why is this? Don’t they want to be seen to be associated, or has the organisation not let them know about their online presence? 

The best way any organisation, or business, can gain further support is through encouraging staff to show their support – to get them to truly buy-in to what the organisation is doing. 

An organisation can prosper and grow through the support it has in the community; and yes, having supporters talk about the work undertake in great in getting their friends to also come on board. But another group that should be nurtured and encouraged to be ‘ambassadors are the people working for the organisation – they should be encouraged to show that they are proud to be part of it, to take every opportunity to talk about it; and are excited about being part of it. 

We know that in business staff can seem disinterested, spending most of their time counting down the hours until their day finishes; only working from week to week, passing the time of day. 

Have you considered how you can help engage your staff, how to manage them and get them on board; to be part of the organisation? 

This isn’t always possible, and unless you can get their ‘buy in’ early and stop negative attitudes setting in the early days you will have almost no chance to ‘mould them’. 

There will be some staff that will never change; you need to look for ways to help them see for themselves that perhaps the work they are doing is “perhaps not best suited to them”; that perhaps they need to “look for something more to their liking”. 

Normally though those working in the charity, non-profit sector are drawn to it for reasons often only known to themselves, or perhaps through personal motivation (the organisation may have helped them, their family or friend); or perhaps they have simply had the ‘calling’ to help others. 

Whether staff (and board members) are working with you for aulturistic reasons or not, there should be some encouragement to get them to fully support the work being undertaken, to show they ‘believe’ in what’s being done, that they’re happy to share the work being done with their friends and family – both on and offline. 

It’s important for any organisation to ensure they have ambassadors, people engaged who support them and who will trumpet about the work being done at every opportunity (staff).



© Melinda Nagy |