For as long as I can remember, the keys to success relate to a number of key factors, including; hard work, dedication, drive, ambition, high ethics, and a great network.
There is also a common thread with many successful fundraising campaigns and the levels of awareness for NGOs, and it’s a phrase I hear far too often: ‘it’s who you know, not what you know.’
Imagine a world where non-profits didn’t have to depend on the ‘who you know,’ marketing budgets, or contacts with celebrity or high-profile individuals to help promote their cause in the best possible way, hoping to encourage engagement because it has the most ‘attractive sell.’
I struggle with the fact that the NGO sector is forced into this game of cat and mouse, to compete with one another in the attempt to raise enough funding to provide support to those in need.
Taking into account the increase in population, social media and the power of ‘crowdfunding’ campaigns, (in conjunction with the vast number of fundraising groups and organisations that have become ‘middle men’ between the public and charitable services); change is needed.
A genuine act of charity is to give without the expectation of something in return.
Giving is just that. To give.
If someone was in an accident, and you were in a position to help, would you weigh up what you would receive if you helped that person before you assisted them? I hope you answered (a firm) ‘No’. However, when it comes to giving or donating, especially to organisations providing charitable services, there is a focus on the return.
Investing in property or business, or even individuals, can, and justifiably so, have a return on investment. An ROI. Be it financial, personal or emotional.
I strongly believe that investing in charitable services, on the other hand, should have a different type of ROI. In an ideal world, the expectation of return on investment in the NGO sector should be a genuine interest and ethical duty of care to ensure that those in need are looking after. Without having to jump through hoops, and without having to be weighed up against any kind of return.
Investing in charitable services should also be a moral consideration because there are real people to help, real life problems to solve, environments to sustain and/or to repair, animals that need our support. The list goes on. It shouldn’t ever be a case of “what am I going to get back if I put my money into this (organisation)?”.
If the NGO and charitable sector were white-labelled, it would do away with the pressures of marketing budgets and celebrity endorsements to attract the most support. It would do away with the need to engage with the very best advertising agency. It would also do away with the ‘blind-giving’ approach where people only support a cause because they saw a heartwarming ad on TV.
In an ideal world, individuals and socially-conscious businesses would support charitable causes based purely on the needs of the community, and, at the end of the day, support those that are most vulnerable, and need the most help.
With that said, while we are working towards this utopia of competitor-free charitable causes, we are all forced to play the game. We must endeavour to secure the best advertising agency or PR team. We are compelled to encourage and source support from high-profile celebrities, and we must continue to compete and try to create the best ‘pull at the heartstrings’ advertising media or fundraising campaigns to convince people to donate and help out.
Thankfully, while we work towards white-labelling charities, or at least changing the NGO sector, there many of us that are still willing to help to make this world a better place. All we can do is encourage more people to take our lead.
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