February 17, 2017
The number of charities seeking our money is irritating, not because they’re trying to raise importants funds but because you can’t say yes to all of them. (Pic: iStock)
I’ve become desensitised to charitable causes. Here’s why.
About six weeks or so ago a lady by the name of Christine seemingly handed over my phone number instead of her own to a company probably in exchange for a free two-for-one steak voucher. (Christine has made it to my shit list).
My number has since been passed around like a bottle of Passion Pop at a Blue Light Disco and now my formerly peaceful existence has gone forever.
About every two hours I get a call from someone who wants to sell me a mortgage or pet insurance for my long dead pet but these are the minority. The vast majority of the hundreds of calls are from charities hoping I’ll make a donation.
I have a set routine with my charitable donations — I support a few close to my heart and make the odd face-to-face donations to different causes.
The rest can get stuffed.
So when I get these calls I just politely decline, hang up and feel a little irritated. I’m not irritated they are trying to raise important funds, I’m irritated I can’t say yes to everyone.
As a bit of a people pleaser it is hard for me to say “no” so I become defensive and try to end the conversion early because I can see my whole wage slipping away to some new age art movement charity for orphaned monkeys in Guam.
On every street corner there’s a collection box, every weekend there’s a different ball or walk or run and every celebrity wants their own charity.
The result? Charities are stretched to their limits and punters are numb.
One of my first ever stories as a journo was about a guy who was riding his bike all around Australia to raise money for a charity.
He’d dropped into the paper’s office and was keen to drum up a bit of local support.
I asked him how much he had raised and how much he had to spend on the trip, that’s about where my adoration ended.
“Look, I know I enjoyed two steaks for the price of one but in hindsight, it wasn’t worth this constant reminding of how lucky I am.” (Pic: iStock)
Thousands and thousands had been donated to the cause but only hundreds would make it to his charity of choice by the time his food, accommodation and other incidentals were paid for.
I felt like grabbing the piece of bun loaf I’d just given him out of his gob and sending it directly to the charity.
Old mate’s overheads were just too high. And let’s face it, that’s the case for a lot of charities who are all vying for the same piece of the pie.
The 2014 Australian Charities Report showed that of the more than $95 billion spent by charities in 2014, more than $51 billion was spent on employee expenses, a bit more than $4 billion on grants and donations and the remainder on “other” — whatever “other” means.
New charities pop up every week duplicating a charity that already exists.
If you have 76 charities all raising money for the same cause it means you are paying 76 different sets of overheads before the cause starts seeing a cent.
Imagine if those 76 charities joined to be one super charity — paying one set of overheads and sinking the rest directly into the cause.
For years the Community Council for Australia has advocated for change in a sector that has 600,000 not-for-profits and 60,000 registered charities.
Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie says the operating environment for charities gets tougher and tougher and it’s time charities stopped competing with each other.
“Giving is dropping and the statistics spell that out,” he said.
This is not about putting down charities or volunteers who work tirelessly to help millions of people every year. I hate to think about what kind of country we would live in without them and encourage everyone to do what you can to support them.
All I’m saying is it would be better for everyone if some of them would join forces in the interests of efficiency.
One last thing, Christine, if you are reading this, I sincerely hope the steak voucher you got for selling me down the river was worth it.