One subject that charity advocates, telephone fundraisers and chuggers dislike discussing with people in and outside the sector is administration costs. It comes up time and again.
The problem is not that there is something shameful about the fact that an organisation has rent and salaries to pay; it’s having to explain that administration doesn’t just mean the cost of fundraising.
I’m confused as to why almost every organisation packages salaries, pension contributions, utilities, increasing cash reserves, office equipment, staff travel and fundraising costs together as administration.
I believe it damages our reputation and makes it far too easy for people to attack charities that seem to have high costs; but we are partly to blame because of the way we communicate unavoidable costs.
We must start thinking more creatively and encourage innovative ideas in our reporting of finances. Charities should use the variety of digital tools available to break down administration into easy-to-understand segments that allow funders to understand the costs and make it clear to them that money not spent on programmes isn’t just used for for fundraisers’ salaries. (There’s a common misunderstanding that fundraisers are also paid commission – most fundraisers I know would love to be paid commission…)
Charities are highly trusted, but one of the public’s biggest concerns is how much of their money is actually spent on the programme it’s intended for. This is of course a valid concern, and administration costs need to be communicated in a way that shows that it actually covers various core operational costs that are essential to ensure that a charity is managed and run correctly.
When that happens, the public will understand that a charity cannot run without office space or paying its people. And when it does understand that, we won’t need to have those repetitive conversations in which we strive to explain what we mean by administration – which is that it doesn’t really mean administration at all.
The recent leadership and skills review carried out by Dame Mary Marsh was long overdue. I am pleased many of her recommendations acknowledge and seek to address some of the issues I raised in my recent blog about young talent (by the way, I’ve now finished university and thank you for all of your best wishes and I am on the job-hunt). The review outlined many of the ideas I mentioned in that blog and offered some concurring solutions. Read More
Some of you may have seen some of my tweets last week, but for those that didn’t, I was walking down the high street in leafy suburban Surbiton when a charity fundraiser for an animal charity tried to stop me.
Normally I stop to talk to fundraisers, partly because I’m interested in the tactics that fundraising agencies use, and also because I like listening to some of the scripts, which have often been exaggerated by people under pressure to meet their targets.
This particular fundraiser’s icebreaker was certainly questionable, as well as rude, embarrassing, inappropriate and awkward. Read More
I have my last deadline at university in five weeks. I receive my last instalment of student finance later this month. I leave the security of student life. These facts combined have triggered a pre-graduation panic, which is sweeping through universities and is on every third year undergraduate’s mind.
Within a few weeks the largest part of my income will end, and I will (hopefully) graduate with a law degree. What worries me, and others like me, is, ‘what happens next’? Read More
Many of my recent blogs have been about the decline in individual giving, and particularly focusing on young people and their relationship with the third sector as a whole.
That’s why I’m very pleased that the Charities Aid Foundation has launched an inquiry titled ‘Growing Giving’. Read More
Last year, many bloggers on Third Sector wrote about ‘chuggers’ and telephone fundraisers. When I first moved to London, I started working for a telephone fundraising agency. I was cash-strapped and interested in learning what fundraisers say and know about the charities they raise money for. It paid £8.50 an hour, which was quite a decent rate. My vested interest was two fold. I needed to earn money but I was also interested in learning the tricks of the trade of how agencies and charities collaborated. Read More
Increasingly, charities have to diversify their products to compete in the charity market.
They may be able to attract new sponsors by launching low-cost and low-commitment options that require a monthly gift, combined with an opt-in service that delivers updates and upgrade asks to their inboxes. These types of cost options give charities a chance to build relationships of trust, and grow their networks, to be upgraded when economic conditions improve. Read More