Recently I had a telephone call from someone claiming to be carrying out some research for a charity which has a shop in Swindon and they wanted my feedback on my experience of that establishment. Like an idiot, I answered the questions and then, hardly taking a breath, the young woman asked if I would sign up to £6 a month. When I challenged her that she had misled me initially, she denied this. I refused her offer, only for it to change to £3 a month for a longer period. She then launched into a really long spiel about being a private company which had pledged to raise blah, blah, blah for the charity and this company would be paid a fee of £75,000. That was some time ago and I blogged angrily about it at the time – I hate being cold-called, lied to and then when I say no, completely ignored.
But another local charity was collecting outside my local supermarket over the weekend. I do hate being accosted when I’m shopping and I get fed up when Sainsbury’s and others allowing customers to be hassled when doing a shop. But I can see it’s a legitimate way of fund raising. However, it is a matter of choice whether you give or not and I refuse to feel guilty for choosing not to give. On this occasion I was willing as it was Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
This organisation does fantastic, life-saving work and is deserving of our support. So I got out my purse and asked where I should put my donation of £5. I was then presented with a form and told that they couldn’t take any money today but I could only choose to sign up for a year or for a single donation of about £26.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
How many people coming into or out of the supermarket that day would willing sign up to paying £26 minimum rather than give 50p or £1 or £5? Do they really find enough people who are willing to enter into a long-term commitment to give money to this charity? Is that better than getting people to ‘pay as you go’?
I know the air ambulance is losing a lot of funding shortly and that’s very worrying. But we are all in the same boat here and I believe the third sector should give people every single option when it comes to giving.
For me – I hate this ‘I’m going to make you commit’ approach. I don’t like to feel I’m being managed in this way, especially when it comes to money. As a business person, I ensure that clients or potential clients engage me in a way that suits their budget and cash flow. So some want long-term or medium-term support, others want to pay as you go.
So why didn’t this charity do the same? Many people who are out shopping are doing so on a restricted budget. Food bills have soared in the last couple of years. So I suspect that many shoppers would spare a pound or two, but will flatly refuse to give a much higher sum. Or they will take the paperwork and bin it at the earliest opportunity.
I’d be fascinated to know if this fund raising approach is working – maybe it is and I’m just being churlish. But experience of the third sector has taught me that people give the most when they have had a need, or someone they know has used an important service. That way people then do specific fund-raising events, sign up to a monthly commitment or leave something in a will.
What do you think?