Charities quite simply destroying themselves

May 20th, 2009

Every christmas there are two I remember:

  1. The Salvation Army, they provide cheer and good will by having the band play christmas carols.  I really enjoy this and typically give them a few dollars.
  2. Cruelty against Animals, they typically dress up in dog costumes asking for money.

(Note: I ran into both of these within 10 minutes of each other a weekend before christmas.)

One of these is providing a positive experience and thus building their brand and goodwill.  The other is hassling consumers and destroying brand value.

I daresay the collections for the former are much higher than that of the latter.

I do not hold anything against the cause itself I just think they could be doing it better.

How about having big cute dogs out in public to pat? Or having some dogs doing some tricks, or show huge photos of animals that have been saved.

As honestly when we (yes you and me) are stressed, pushing through the crowds, doing our shopping, the absolute last thing we want is something to make us feel guilty.  We are already wired! Try and cheer us up.

The Salvation Army certainly are….

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3 Responses to “Charities quite simply destroying themselves”

  1. Stacey Says:

    I definitely think there is not only something in the cheeriness of the charities you mentioned, but also something on a human level which connects with us. A few years ago, I gave a fair sum of money to oxfam, the result of a slick marketing campaign. Ever since then, every month without fail, I get a letter in the mail, which I transfer straight to the recycling, shaking my head that there goes that money I gave thinking it was a goat for a family in Africa. I haven’t given to them since, but do make sure I give to charities with faces of volunteers. Even greenpeace hires people to talk you into donating, and I think this misses the point of giving to a deserving cause. You do it because they need you to.

  2. Rich@getfrank Says:

    I thought the same, and put that to World Vision – ‘Starving children’ vs. ‘Seeing value added communities built / smiles etc.’

    They responded that they had tried & it didn’t deliver, the old business adage that there’s more money in a pain killer than a vitamin seems to hold in charities as well.

    Handing over a $1, kills that guilt.

    I still believe there’s a solid % of the market, and with the ability to segment your approach they’d gain more, was interesting though to here that when taking the whole market in one shot/branding approach World Vision has to shoot low to bring in the most.

  3. Ben Young Says:

    @Stacey It is the result of systemised processes – they know they get the most out of people that have already donated so once you have they chuck you in a system that pesters you forever. Knowing that on average you will donate more. It’s the same around the world unfortunately. Causes such as Kiva avoid this and in the long run it is those that cater to our needs that will get the funds.

    @Rich They are probably right – under their operating model. If they changed the value proposition as Kiva have that may change. As the highly engaged / motivated will give much more. It’s a result of average service offering to the masses. As you say if they segmented the market more.



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