We have all been swamped by the latest fundraising crazes. The #ALSicebucketchallenge and #nomakeupselfie being particular favourites and both hugely successful. Before I go on, I must add that I am a firm supporter of fundraising in innovative ways. Using social media to ‘do the work for you’ is a smart move. It barely costs organisations anything. There are millions of us who use such platforms every single day and charities using that to their advantage is great. We can see this from the huge sums both these campaigns raised. However, I am not sure that fundraising should only be about raising money. I’m aware that that sounds odd. But stay with me for a second.
I think that fundraising has two main purposes:
1) Money- Charities need funding. You can’t argue with that. Not only for the cause they are working for. But also for operating costs. Charities are like every other business- they need to pay for labour, rent, materials and so on. Especially if they have just started up. There are external funding options, but a proportion of the money they raise still needs to go towards ‘typical business costs’.
2) Raising Awareness & Creating Loyalty- the second key purpose of fundraising, is establishing loyal donators who will support the charity throughout their journey. The way in which this is done, is by raising awareness of what the charity’s objectives are and clearly informing the public of what they are trying to achieve. If you can do this, donators are more likely to want to support the charity not only financially, but also through campaigning and volunteering.
The #nomakeupselfie was the first campaign that really challenged my beliefs of what fundraising is about. Should its sole purpose be raising loads of money? I found that amongst my peers this particular campaign became a bit of a popularity contest and ‘who looks the prettiest without makeup on’. (Also contributing towards gender stereotyping and the idea women are jealous and in competition with each other… But I will save that rant for another day.) I’m not wholly convinced that everyone actually donated or knew what the campaign was really about. I disagree that fundraising is about guilt tripping individuals into donating money.
The charity sector is becoming incredibly saturated and organisations have to find ways to get people to part with their cash. But I feel there is something morally wrong with using peer pressure and guilt to do that. I know that when I was nominated for both, I felt enormous pressure to take part. I am really passionate about the charity sector. I love to volunteer, donate and happily sponsor my friends’ bike rides, walks and bungee jumps. Fundraising is a crucial part of charities ability to survive. However, I think that more emphasis should be put on raising awareness and ensuring people WANT to donate and get involved. This will be more beneficial for all parties.