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Monday, 3 October 2011

Where does the money actually go?

I just read a thought provoking article about giving to charity, and considering that we are at the start of Pinktober and the mad rush to buy anything pink to raise money for breast cancer charities I wanted to put some thoughts down on 'paper'.  I am coming to the conclusion more and more that 'charity' it now just a marketing industry with the main aim of raising money to fund well paid jobs for a few. Doing charity work used to be a vocation, and still is for the millions who volunteer, but what about those with nice big pay cheques who are making such a nice living out of it all. Those who worked for charities used to be paid less than those in a for-profit organisation because they were trying to maximise the money they raised for the cause they were concerned with, but it almost seems to be the other way around now. Come and work for this charity and get paid lots of money to 'grow' our business ... NO you are a charity NOT a business. Do what you are supposed to do, what you claim to do ... you are not working in The City or on Wall Street to make money for yourself, you are working for a charity for the the benefit of others.

Why are there so many different charities all with the same aim? Think of the money being wasted on salaries for those doing the same job in each charity. I think it was a Canadian cancer charity which was criticised recently for spending more on fundraising than it did on research ... and you can be sure that this is not just a problem in this one charity. What about the millions they all spend on Branding, and re-Branding themselves every few years. WHY? Who gives a damn if they have a jazzy new logo? Why buy Christmas card where pennies from the £'s or $'s that they cost to buy actually goes to the charity funds? I'd rather buy cheap commercial cards (or make my own) and give £10 to a charity as in the end they will get much more. Think how much these cards actually cost to produce, then think who is getting the profit.

'Charity' sadly seems to be learning more from the Banking industry than any true and pure understanding that I have of what charity should be. Occasionally I get to help in the League of Friends shop in my local hospital and they do a 25% discount for helpers - why? I want to GIVE to the cause, not take advantage of it to save myself money. That said, the League have at least learned from past mistakes. Years ago they bought a scanner for the hospital and gave it to the NHS. The NHS then decided that it was too good for our little community hospital and moved it to Southampton General Hospital, the big acute hospital in this area. Now the League of Friends only loan equipment so it benefits those that the money raised is supposed to benefit. My little hospital now has an MRI scanner which is better than those in SGH and it will stay here.

Charities have to remember that they should be keeping their word, and as an advert says, making sure it "does what it says on the tin". If you are fund raising for cancer research, then fund the research, not marketing jobs and business consultants.

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