What would Grandma say?

Published by Peter Goudkamp on

Not so long ago I asked staff of the communication and fundraising department at a certain large charity if they were actually supporting their own cause. No more than 22% actually did. So I asked myself, what would my grandmother say of this?

I got to tell you a little bit about my grandmother. She was (she died a couple of years ago) every charity’s dream donor. A very religious woman, who always felt that other people who were in need should be taken care off, helped when they needed help. So she supported many charities, her local church being one of the most important ones. Over the years that added up to many thousands of euros …

I always kept that in mind making my decisions when I worked at the Protestant Church; would I be able to explain to my grandmother that the money she gave all her life was well spent. It kept me keen on not spending money haphazardly, be it for huge mailings or for a cup of coffee.

Now let’s go back to the 22% who said yes, or better, to the 78% that didn’t. They gave various reasons for not giving money to the charity they work for. Let us go over them and ask my grandmother for her opinion.

“I already work here!” “Well, that’s your choice”, she would say, “It’s your job and you get paid for it, don’t you? And if that pay is not to your satisfaction, maybe you should find another job?!”

“I need the money myself.” “Are you serious? And you’re asking the blue rinse brigade for money? You’re actually saying that all these o.a.p.’s like me are better off than you? Maybe you should find another job!

“I believe our organization is not doing a good job spending donors’ money!” Somewhat agitated she’d reply: “Then go out and do something about it and in the meantime stop asking other people for their money. And if that doesn’t succeed, maybe you should find another job!”

“I already give so much to other charities.” By now she would start laughing: “You’re kidding me, right? You give to others but not to your own? That’s so ridiculous that I urge you to find another job!”

These were more or less the reasons people gave for not supporting their own charities. And none of them would convince my grandmother or did convince me for that matter. I honestly cannot believe that a fundraiser could go out and ask other people for their money, without himself giving. What do you say when someone asks you how much you give? Is there any reason for not giving?

I believe fundraising is passion above all. And with that passion comes dedication to the cause. And putting your money where your mouth is! I dare you reader: leave a comment and tell me whether you give to your own charity or not and please tell me why if you don’t!

Better yet, try to convince my grandmother. Or any other donor that happily supports your charity …

Peter Goudkamp

Who's Peter Goudkamp? Been working in Fundraising for several years, teamleader Fundraising @ the Dutch Protestant Church (Kerk in Actie!) for 6 years, coordinator for fundraising efforts for Pakistan in 2010 on behalf of the SHO. Since October 1st Director of Fundraising & Communication @ Dorcas. Loves challenges in fundraising, but also his motorbike, music and most of all his 2 kids!


Danielle Atkinson · October 3, 2011 at 15:15

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I wrote a blog post about this very subject a couple of weeks ago: http://www.merlin.org.uk/blog/why-i-give/1345 I can’t imagine why anyone would want to work somewhere they’re not willing to give to.

    Peter Goudkamp · October 3, 2011 at 20:48

    What a coincidence! But no surprise, I totally agree with your blog :-)

Tara Lepp · October 3, 2011 at 15:30

I give to my organization through payroll deduction. I also give one-time gifts to the various hospitals at other times of the year or support people through special events. I agree that everyone should support the charity they work for. Even it’s only $5 a month or a $25 gift a couple of times a year. If you don’t think your charity deserves it then you’re right – you shouldn’t be working for that organization.

Tina · October 3, 2011 at 16:57

I donate to the organization I work for, too, and completely agree with the sentiments listed above. I’m curious to know if your organizations solicit you and fellow employees. OR if you made an unsolicited gift, would your organization solicit you for a renewed gift the following year?

Suzanna Barry · October 9, 2011 at 22:06

I give to my charity by workplace giving payroll deduction. We introduce this 8 months ago and numbers are slowly increasing. The key is to promote at induction. I agree it is all about passion!

Diana Hoyt · October 10, 2011 at 21:48

Go grandma!! I have always given to the nonprofits I have worked for and have volunteered for. I have withdrawn my name as a candidate for a nonprofit position when I realized after the interview that I really could not support the organization. It is an issue of integrity. The development officer needs to set an example for staff and for the board.

Henja Visser · October 27, 2011 at 09:07

Hi Peter :-)

Well, I quite like your grandmother. She was straight forward and with her heart at the right spot, that’s obvious. To answer your question, Yes I do support the charity where I work. I agree that everybody who chooses to work for a certain charity/non profit organisation should ask him/herself the question if he/she would personally also donate to this organisation. Since that will give the correct indication whether you indeed fully support the cause/aim of the organisation. While I do support the charity where I work, I also do this with some general reservation; my organisation is not really better than others when we talk about the issue of overhead costs (“strijkstok”), I know this and accept this. An organisation that can proof to be as lean to the optimum and absolutely transparant about overhead costs would give me more inspiration and motivation to donate! I can be challenged, also by my own organisation, to increase my support….

Bye, bye, good luck up North.

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