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The earthquake in Haiti has sparked a massive wave of giving from around the world. People are sending money in via the internet, donating through mobile phone texts and social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and using a huge range of innovative methods (see here for more examples) to raise money and get the message out there.
A friend of mine runs a small company called Better Generation that sells energy-saving products such as wind turbines and efficient light bulbs over the internet. After several years of operating on a small scale, it has recently secured significant financial backing and has grown quickly.
In December we launched the inaugural NPC Haiku Competition. Readers of this blog were encouraged to muster their energy and creative spirit to write a bit of charity or philanthropy-inspired lyrical magic – in the form of a three-line verse with the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure.
Mario Morino, Chairman of US organisation Venture Philanthropy Partners, has been one of the leading proponents of charities measuring their outcomes, and funders shaping their investment in charities around these outcomes. So his recent article might come as a shock, as it warns of the dangers of outcomes measurement, even going so far as to suggest that "the vast majority of funders and nonprofits are achieving, at best, marginal benefit from their efforts to implement outcomes thinking".
I think that people should talk about their giving. They should not be ashamed to say which charities they give to, and they should be willing to discuss why they give to those and not to one of the other estimated 180,000 charities. It should be acceptable to say ‘no’ to fundraisers, or friends about to run a marathon, on the basis that you think carefully about your giving, and have chosen to not support that particular charity.
Christmas is a time when, amongst the relentless cheer and merriment, springs a will to help those in need. It is the time when giving to charity in the UK reaches its peak. Usually the first question that we ask ourselves when considering donating at Christmas is ‘how much should I give?’
Youth unemployment has hit a record high. The latest government figures, released yesterday, show that 952,000 young people aged 16–24 are currently out of work—the highest number since records began in 1992. This number is also dangerously close to the one million mark, which the government is understandably keen to avoid.
Is tax relief on charitable giving a entitlement? Or is it something charities should have to earn? It’s a tough question and one I have been mulling over since it was raised at a seminar I went to yesterday at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The seminar was presenting the research of Kim Scharf and Sarah Smith into how changing Gift Aid tax relief would impact on donations.
As the Christmas festivities begin and we prepare to say goodbye to 2009, we all need to find some time for our poetic side. With that in mind, you are invited to enter the inaugural NPC Haiku Competition. 2009 may have been a tough year, but muster what is left of your energy and creative spirit to write a bit of charity or philanthropy-inspired lyrical magic.
Influencing people’s attitudes and behaviours is difficult. I think that many charities fail by talking in the wrong language, to the wrong people: charity campaigns are often written by and therefore subconsciously aimed at educated, middle-class, liberal people who care about things like poverty and giving to charity. This is all well and good, but it means that large swathes of the population either don’t listen to your message, or may even be turned off by it.
We hosted our first joint breakfast seminar with Charity Finance Directors' Group and Farrer & Co yesterday morning entitled ‘Counting Feelings; the +s and –s of measuring children’s well-being’. The event was testimony to the growing demand in the third sector to measure results and for innovative methods to do this—50 charities and funders attended and it sold out within 24 hours.
The quant camp want to know ‘how much’ and ‘how many’ and are suspicious that case studies are cherry-picked to show charities in a positive light. The problem is, in a way, they are both right. If done poorly, any research can be biased, simplistic and not worth the paper the research application was written on.