Don’t blame people for being stingy

According to Australian Tax Office statistics, around 64% of Australian’s do not donate anything to any charity. Of those that do donate, the average donation is less than 1% of income.

It is easy to blame people for being stingy. In doing so we avoid talking about the real issue. People donate to causes that they feel an affinity for. Today there are so many charitiable organisations vying for our money it can be difficult to sort out who is who and which of them are relevant. This confusion makes it easier for us to do nothing at all.

If a charity is to appeal to a potential donor then firstly the charity must be relevant. That means they must actually have an impact upon society. More to the point, potential donors need to understand that impact and relevancy.

This means the charity must become expert marketers. They have to understand and utilise every communication channel. They have to understand the information needs of donors and provide them with appropriate and timely information that creates a desire to donate.

We are not a stingy society. Just look at what happens when then is a natural disaster. People dig deep into their pockets, without question.

A natural disaster has high visibility and its impact is obvious. Media serve both to deliver news and encourage donations. By comparison the majority of charities engaged in wooing donors act like party wallflowers. Thier websites and marketing material lack consistency, their message is muddled, they provide no reason to donate (other than to win a prize in some instances) and they fail to differentiate themselves from all the other charities that need donations.

For a number of years I was a regular donor to a national charity. Not because I had any real affinity to that charity, more because they phoned me when I was busy, during working hours and made it easy for me to use a credit card to make a donation. I had no clear understanding of the aims, goals, outcomes of the charity and no idea as to what I was purchasing or eligible to win. In recent years I have stopped these donations because I ceased to have a reason to continue. Research has shown that around 75% of donors (out of the 35% that do donate) fail to make consecutive donations.

This serves to illustrate one of the future challenges facing charities. The paddock is becoming increasingly crowded. There is competition for every donated dollar. On the flip side there is considerable potential for increasing the percentage of donors and the amount donated. Those charities that will be successful in attracting their share of donations will be those that send me, and others a message about their impact and just how relevant they really are.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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