Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweet Charity

I'm not sure about this one. It may offend.

You get a charity request where the requestor is doing something difficult or dangerous in return for a donation. Should that make you more likely to contribute than just shaking a collection tin? I'd say yes, the arduous task shows genuine commitment to the cause, it is an indicator that the cause is genuinely a worthy one.

But, and this is the slightly troublesome bit, a lot of people actually pay their own money to perform directly comparable tasks, whether running in marathons or scaling new heights. So if you know that the requestor is using the donation to facilitate what is basically their hobby anyway, should you be wary?

On balance I'd say it doesn't matter. Even if the first x of the collection goes to fund the event and everything above that goes to the charity, then it's still worthwhile. That's obviously the case if x is only a small fixed sum but it's still the case even if x is a significant percentage; because it still leaves a contribution to charity which would not otherwise be raised, the requestor's task is only a side effect to the primary cause.

However let's go one step too far. Maybe that side effect is not a hidden cost but actually a hidden benefit. We don't actually care for most of the charities that solicit donation. But we do tend to care for the people who are requesting the donation. Perhaps we are simply more willing to help pay for a friend's adventure than for an anonymous sufferer's cure?


Ann said...

For me this is simple. Subsedising an adventure under the guise of raising money for charity is wrong. There are people who get this right by paying for the experience themselves and requesting charitable donations in addition.
I wonder how you view Cause Related Marketing in which an organisation pays a vast some promoting a campaign in which a much smaller some benefits a good cause.

R N B said...

Hmm, so would you refuse to donate if part of the money went to paying for the adventure?

View on cause related marketing follows. I couldn't care less if 10p from a special edition goes to fund x, if the normal edition is 11p cheaper I'll buy that. Corporations do not choose which charities will get my spend. And I've said before that promotions are basically ignored and irrelevant anyway. An exception is if the whole company itself is a "cause", like generally buying from the co-op instead of from Tesco, even if higher cost, but that's a bigger subject.

Ann said...

Generally I would not contribute unless all of the money went to the charity. Otherwise it's like me going round the office and saying "if you give me £50 towards my holiday this year then I promise to donate some money to charity."
However, I have asked for sponsorship for a bike ride before. All of the money raised went to the charity but I knew that the charity spent £40K running the bike ride speculatively because they gambled on getting £120K in sponsorship.
That's similar but different to the experience plus sponsorship scenario.