Charities Told To Stop Apologising for Raising Money
27 October 2015 at 9:59 am
Charities should stop apologising for fundraising and should work together to develop an effective strategy against negative media coverage, an international conference has been told.
The message was delivered by controversial US entrepreneur, author and humanitarian activist, Dan Pallotta, at the Resource Alliance’s International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in the Netherlands.
More than 1000 fundraisers, leaders and changemakers from around the world attended the conference in which Pallotta spoke on issues including innovation with purpose, risk and the need for more investment in charity fundraising and marketing.
Strategies to address negative media coverage, such as those which have plagued the UK charity sector over recent months, were the hot topic at the event with more than half of the questions to Pallotta focused on the issues.
“When the media challenges a charity, all other charities head for the hills as they don’t want to be associated with it. There should be a national voice to respond to claims on behalf of the sector as a whole, and yet in many cases there isn’t,” Pallotta said.
“The Not for Profit sector in the US is a trillion dollar sector but we’ve never once taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times to say anything to the public about the issues that affect us.
“The Charity Defense Council has started doing an ‘I’m Overhead’ ad campaign, which explains the role of fundraising and other staff, and states, ‘don’t ask if a charity has low overheads, ask if it has big impact’.”
Pallotta said that charities must become methodical, rather than questioning why things don’t change, “because not only are we not doing anything to change them, we’re actively working to prevent them from changing”.
“It’s encouraging that we’re having this conversation because 10 years ago it wouldn’t have even occurred to us, but we need a battle plan for dealing with it. Charities need to work together to figure something out for the long-term,” he said.
“What are the messages? There are common sense ways to speak to the public, which they will respond positively to. For example, in addition to the ‘I’m Overhead’ adverts we have another campaign that we are going to run that asks the general public – ‘do you want to be the only donor’. Because if people actively discourage their charities from fundraising they are saying that they don’t want them to find other donors.
“Do people want to bear all the burden and for their charities to be completely dependent on them alone? I doubt it. When you explain this, it introduces a new way of thinking to them and they will understand why investment in fundraising and marketing is so important.”
Dan Pallotta is founder and President of the Charity Defense Council, the President of Advertising for Humanity, and the author of a controversial book called Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential.
He was a key note speaker at the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s 35th Annual International Fundraising Conference in 2012.