Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Fundraising's Image Problem

Recently, BBC Breakfast aired an item on street fundraising. Without a hint of irony, Susanna Reid introduced the subject by asking rhetorically whether 'chuggers' are a nuisance or a necessity (or words to that effect).

Now like many people I am not a great fan of en-masse street fundraising. I will even admit to faking an urgent phone call every now and then to avoid a fifth polite no-thank-you-I-have-already-spoken-to-your-colleague. However, I think it's unnecessarily rude to refer to people doing a useful job in a lawful and often cheerful manner as thieves or robbers (charity+muggers) on national television. Not even in a Robin Hood kind of way.

Similarly, newspaper headlines about fundraising often make me cringe. "Obama/Clooney Cash Grab To Set Dollar Record" referred to a fundraiser at the actor's home to "rake in $12million." Not a local rag, but TIME. Sensationalist verbs such as hauling, grabbing and raking do little to dispel the idea that fundraising is a murky business.

Bad press for fundraising annoys me. Not so much for the fundraisers' sake - after all, growing an extra layer of skin can be helpful for the inevitable cold calls. No, the reason why I find it hard to stomach is because it demeans the generosity of so many donors who genuinely care enough about something to part with their money in order to make a difference. Referring to fundraisers as muggers, rakers or haulers portrays donors as victims of evil cash-obsessed grabbers. And that's just not how it is.

Donors are great people. They listen. They care. They want to help. They are empowered. They are not victims, they are heroes.

1 comment:

  1. At a previous job I asked colleagues to complete this sentence... "Fundraising is..."

    One of the answers was:

    "Fundraising is a fig leaf on the rotting carcass of capitalist excess."

    Well, quite.