Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Commercial Charity.

Recently reports have surfaced on paid charity collectors proving a nuisance to people going about their lawful business  on the street.

Over recent years revelations have exposed instances of worthy charities abandoning participation in marshaling an army to man street collections and handing fundraising over to "Professionals".
Some honorable and only skimming reasonable cost recovery and  profits but other much less savory operators who skim almost every dollar collected creating in effect, a scam.
My service Club hands every single dollar collected to the charity but we will never know if it all reaches the charity target, we just hope so.

It is very clear some very worthy charities are run by an aging troup of committed souls and finding that army is curtailed from the lower numbers, energy levels and a diminishing apparent need, leading to an increased attraction to "farming out" the annual effort.

Greenpeace and Amnesty are two I use for entertainment and pleasure, when time permits as they are an endless source of both and no money changes hands.

I have been a member of a service club heavily involved in raising money for our projects and giving assistance to some select few others in their efforts.
A growing facet of consideration when assistance is requested is trying to ascertain if a commercial entity is running the collection or if the charity is indeed in need of help with a self help situation and it often gets murkier as the charity is either manipulated , coerced or just too dissociated from an ability to divulge the true facts.

Some of those running "commercial charities" are very adept, cunning and shifty.

Which brings me back to the catalyst for this post.
Evidently staffing paid collectors has been augmented by offering young backpacker type tourists incentives to participate with travel costs  and with a little training they become very skilled and at times over the top when viewed against our generous culture that has NZ at the high end as donors to charity.
Remember those who "manned" the promotions for "timeshares" with the targeted allocation of the follow up  "sales person" after the presentation. The long legged blonde chick never moved in on swmbo and the George Clooney lookalike never came onto moi. The first one was a total culture shock I then attended others as places of learning and immense amusement, oh and I never bought a timeshare either.
One recurring fact around street collecting, there is a reverse correlation as to 'apparent means' of a donor and any predisposition to 'give'. The driver from the most expensive wheels are most likely to pass by with averted gaze.

Harassment has no place in charity collection yet that is apparently a growing and recurring theme of the scene c2014   along with a perceived opportunity for exploitation.


quintin Hogg said...

Good point well made.
I get sick of being accosted on the street as well as by phone for charitable donations.
My, now well worn, mantra is I give (time and money) through my service club.
What is disturbing is that my service club has over the years of it's existence built up a tidy sum used to fund charitable work.
That is becoming an object of desire for some who see it as funding their own pet projects. we are having to be very vigilant about the motives people have for joining our club to ensure that the "nest egg" is not used for other purposes

gravedodger said...

Quintin, not knowing your club I can only speak for how I understand mine to operate.
Traditional philosophy predicated against building reserves and at year end we should clear our projects account to reserves for still active projects and donate any remaining surplus to either national reserves or international.

More recent members seem to wish to avoid the old way of when an unfunded request came up, a bunch of members would immediately launch a method of fundraising to meet the new challenge.
Many clubs in the two main operators in NZ have morphed into annual programmed fund raisers then allocate funds from them and I see a lessening of entrepreneurial spirit in starting from scratch for many of the "new " projects that arise. eg The Riccarton markets, annual golf tournaments, 4wd safaris, Paddy's markets etc. I wonder if the founders of Jaycees, Lions , Rotary and other service groups really saw how society would morph and age to where we are today.
Good comment Quintin you highlight the inherent danger of becoming comfortable and the resulting proclivity to have funds diverted to satisfy a personal philosophy.
The other danger in accumulating reserves is the tendency to attract "knife and Fork members who only seek to wear a badge.
Your comment on being prudent in invitations to membership is also very appropriate.

My own club in the last year continued a growing move back to reducing reserves and awarded three international awards and one national award that saw our cash reserves reduce by some 4k not a complete cleanout but certainly a recognition as to where we stand in the world as opposed to where we stand in our community only.

Cheers M