Columnist attacks ‘misery porn’ fundraising ads

Howard Lake | 6 December 2019 | News

The word 'charity' with its definition in the dictionary. Photo: Howard Lake
The word ‘charity’ with its definition in the dictionary. Photo: Howard Lake

A leading newspaper columnist on social issues in Ireland has attacked Christmas fundraising appeals as ‘a sort of misery-porn.’
Writing in the Irish Times, Patsy McGarry said: “It is that time of year when people are harried and harassed by distressing images of human suffering, a sort of misery-porn, the better to relieve them of their cash even as they struggle to see themselves financially through Christmas and new year.”
Mr McGarry said that TV at this time of year contains very many images of human misery, “particularly the pain of wide-eyed children, as legions of charities seek funding for their administration, staff, and advertising costs”.
 

Patsy McGarry's article in the Irish Times (30 November 2019)

Patsy McGarry’s article in the Irish Times (30 November 2019)


 

“Own little empire”

He also attacked the number of charities working in the same field, citing seven major homelessness charities and 42 charities working on overseas aid.
‘Each has become its own little empire and must raise funds to supplement what it gets from the state to pay staff, its administration and fund-raising costs,’ Mr McGarry said.
 

“Blatant emotional blackmail”

He called for advertisements which he described as ‘blatant emotional blackmail’ to be banned from TV screens.
Responding to Mr McGarry’s column in a letter to the Irish Times, Lisa-Nicole Dunne, chairperson of the Charities Institute Ireland said she was saddened and disappointed at Patsy McGarry’s attack on Christmas fundraising appeals from Irish charities.
“The assertion that fundraising is done to benefit the staff of charities is just wrong and borders on being insulting to the great work done by Irish charities and their employees at all times of the year,” she said.
“Putting resources into marketing and fundraising is not an overhead which wastes donors’ money. Instead, it is an investment in growing the income base of charities to the ultimate benefit of those who most need our help,” she said.
Charities require professional staff who dedicate their time to finding solutions to complex problems and to serving our society, she added.
She said that supporting charities wouldn’t be possible without proactive fundraising and engagement of donors and supporters in, for example, the fight against illness, poverty, social issues, climate change and overseas development.
 
 
 

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