Saturday, 3 December 2011

PT.2 Why #together (#TOGETHER) should be our most used hashtag

It really doesn't matter how I phrase this, I am still going to come across sounding like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. And possibly upset some people.


Or not.

If working with the grassroots non-profit sector has taught me one thing, it is that fundraising, at best, is a profoundly difficult and often frustrating process.

In fact, I was reading an article earlier today that some 2,000 people had been laid-off from small community-based non-profits in Britain in the past year alone. The source for the figure was a little vague, but given other anecdotal evidence regarding the state of the economy, it was quite believable.

A lot of these folks had good hearts, but no real head for business. And to be frank, that is what the non-profit / aid sector is. A business. The corporatisation of good deeds.

If you've been reading my recent tweets, you'll have noticed I have been pushing for more collaboration between the small grassroots non-profits. Sharing expertise, talents, resources.

I have been trying to convince people that it isn't a competition, although if my years in this sector have taught me a second thing, the "third sector" can be pretty cut-throat.

Which brings me to this.......

Cute. Very compelling. Who could resist? And while some might say it was just another cynical attempt to exploit Christmas to sell more fluffy toys, albeit for a good cause, you can't deny it is a very professionally delivered campaign.

These giant cut-outs, posters, and other promotional material were "in your face" at every turn. Combined with the Christmas music playing over the public address system, it was no surprise to see the fluffy toy department doing brisk business.

And look at the folks concerned. Unicef, Save the Children, IKEA.. household names. Trusted.

How can the grassroots non-profit community compete for the public's money on this scale? Well, frankly speaking, you can't.

Think for a few seconds about the amount of effort (money) that has gone into this campaign. The artists, the designers, the "Mad Men" who came up with the concept, the executives from Unicef, Save the Children and Ikea who had to approve the work of the artists, designers etc. And then there's the production of the promotional material, the man-hours putting everything together in the store(s), the administration of deducting that $10 from every sale... and all of these people (well most of them anyway) getting paid a decent professional wage.

Makes you kind of wonder just how much of that ten bucks is actually going on education?

Well, empirical evidence of similar campaigns operated by other non-profits and their corporate partners would suggest anything from as little as 40 to a possible high of 70 percent.

But to be practical, on this scale, you have to spend money in order to make money. And no doubt, this particular campaign will ultimately benefit thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of needy children.

And for that fact alone they should be congratulated. So unreservedly; well done Ikea, Unicef and Save the Children.

But that's not the point I am trying to make here.

If you are a small, grassroots, mostly - if not entirely - volunteer run non-profit, then you are not going to attract the sort of Corporate Social Responsibility collaboration that Ikea has demonstrated. It's not going to happen.

So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we - as in the small, grassroots, mostly - if not entirely - volunteer run non-profits, have to learn to collaborate. To share. Work together and pool our resources.

We have to do this #TOGETHER

And stop looking at this as if it were some sort of competition.

Leave that to the big budget guys.

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