It was highlighted to me recently just how many charities are now acting like PLC companies and I was in two minds whether this was a good or bad thing.
At the launch of ‘Memories’, a book of stunning illustrations inspired by stories from individuals with, or affected by, cancer, I was listening to the welcome speech by Garrick Webster, the brainchild behind the book. He recounted how the Memories team had approached a number of charities to ask if they would be interested in benefitting from the funds raised. After all, 100% of the cover price would be donated to charity. He went on to say they approached a number of “corporates” (he used the word ‘corporates’, whilst actually meaning ‘charities’ – an intentional illustration of the issue). Many of them would only work with him if he guaranteed a minimum donation, in one case £55,000!
Clearly Garrick could not guarantee this kind of figure, so had to respectfully decline and look for other charities to support.
Of course, we don’t yet know just how much Memories will raise. Let’s say it’s £20,000 – well, that’s £20,000 that could have gone to the charity that insisted on a minimum of £55,000. Surely any charity wouldn’t turn down a £20,000 donation; and if they did, what would their trustees have to say?
Charities which act like PLCs are distant and intimidating to approach when they should surely be much more open to individuals who just want to help. Instead, these altruistic individuals get short shrift and receive a very corporate CEO response of, “If you can guarantee raising £55,000 and not a penny less, only then can you use our logo”. Wow, what a fantastic business model to have!
Garrick said, “It certainly did feel like you were dealing with a large corporation, everything was dealt with by departments and communications were received in legalese. I felt let down too as one of the large charities we contacted is one that I donate to every month. Personally, I think it’s a disgrace how some big charities treat small projects which could potentially benefit them a great deal. If you’re grassroots, and outside their normal networks etc., you haven’t a hope.”
A charity’s brand, which they have fostered over many years, has an immense value to them and it is of course correct to protect it at all costs. But at what financial cost? Where is the fine line? Vetting the fundraiser’s ideas and plans is of course a must; and having a point of contact at the charity to make sure the charity’s brand guidelines are not breached is also very important. However, why turn down an honest and very emotional offer of help (Garrick’s father himself passed away from cancer) from a genuinely good idea?
Can this ‘minimum’ donation fixation actually be hurting charities? £20,000 is better than nothing.
Incidentally, the charity that welcomed the idea behind Memories was Maggies Cancer Care Centres. Clearly, a very forward thinking charity, they appreciate creative fundraising ideas regardless of the bottom line revenue they could raise.
Garrick said, “Maggie’s are completely different. Our project will raise relatively little money compared to other projects out there. But they have embraced what we’re doing nonetheless. I’m really proud to have worked with them.”
For this, I personally applaud Maggies and the excellent work of ‘Memories’. If you would like to order a copy of ‘Memories’, you can do on their website – http://memories.subism.co.uk
I would welcome all comments. Do you think charities acting like PLCs is a good or bad approach?
Craig Hartzel is CEO of Charity Greetings. Charity Greetings provides white labelled charity cards shop to charities. To open a free card shop visit www.joincharitygreetings.com
You can support charity by sending a greeting card, including birthday cards by going to www.charitygreetings.com.
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