I read this article on LinkedIn this morning and ran out of room to share via LinkedIn, so I figured I’d make it a blog post instead.
Basically, we’re back to the topic of overheads. The general perception is that charities shouldn’t spend money on admin and staff. 100% of a gift should go to the project.
I’ve touched on this in a previous post; it’s a view apparently held by many that charities are wasteful, bottomless pits and that a higher proportion of gift income is spent on so-called admin, and the CEO’s salary, than on the children/animals/research etc.
It’s a difficult view to challenge without coming across as whiny: “But I need to be paid! I’m a professional doing a job, like anyone else doing a job! Like a plumber or an electrician!”
Of course, the counter argument to that is: “Well, people should give out of the goodness of their hearts, how very dare you make a living out of asking for money?!” Or words along those lines. (Trust me, I’ve had this argument countless times, often with family. It makes for an interesting Christmas dinner.)
I think one of the biggest challenges we have is expressing to donors, in a non-patronising and non-whiny way,that at some level fundraising needs to be professional.
We need skilled individuals to manage our database, because otherwise we end up contacting people who’ve asked us not to, and missing people who actually want to hear from us (yes, they do exist!). We need passionate fundraisers to get the story out there, to connect with those who wish to support the cause. Volunteers can only do so much, and it’s unfair to expect them to take on what is essentially a full-time job on top of their other commitments.
And yes, we shouldn’t have to ask. Everyone who can should give to support those in need, those who are suffering, those who are less fortunate, those who are in awful situations through no fault of their own.
But the world doesn’t work like that.
I wish it did. But it doesn’t.
The problems facing humanity may seem insurmountable, but we must keep trying to solve them. And in doing so, we must accept that spending some of our income on getting better at what we do is a good thing. If we as fundraisers are well-supported and passionately led, we can do more to address the cause we set out to address in the first place.
And ultimately, isn’t that what we want our charities to be able to do, as effectively as possible?