Saturday, January 30, 2010

Andrei Stealing from the poorest

Charity is a big business, and there is always the thought in your mind when you give money to a worthy cause how much of it actually gets used for the purpose for which it is given.

There is a vivid passage in "Slaughterhouse Five" where Billy Pilgrim is woken up by his doorbell, looks out the window and sees a cripple on his doorstep, another at the house across the street and a limousine parked up the road. He knows it is a scam and the man in the limo is using cripples to sell Christmas Cards which will never arrive. so he calls the police.

And haven't we all been caught this way.

And we all know this, several times a week I get called by someone who is raising money for this or that worthy cause. And the person on the end of the line is often being paid for doing it - out of the money collected. I don't blame them for that - they need the work. But very little of the money collected in this manner can actually be used for the purported purpose for which it is being collected.

Anyway there are charities of long standing which do do great things in the community, necessary things and one of those would have to be the IHC.

From time to time I visit an IHC house, with eight residents - middle aged men not really capable of independent existence. And this house provides home and shelter for them.

So it is sickening to read that money freely given to the IHC to help support such programs, which we all should, has been embezzled by the IHC's fund raising manager.

You wonder how such people sleep at night.

2 comment(s):

Melva said...

I entered the charitable sector this time last year and have been working for TEAR Fund. I have nothing but admiration for TEAR Fund and the responsible attitude it has towards people's money. The understanding that we're dealing with people's donations and the expectations that go with that, are taken extremely seriously... though it's impossible to please everybody.

For that reason, our TV ads are made on the cheap, in house for disasters and outsourced to "friends" when they are for other purposes where we may need stronger production... we get extremely good rates or we don't do it.

Much of our print material is also designed in-house or done by firms connected and supportive of what we do, thus we get great rates.

We don't hire third party marketing firms to harass people in the street or malls, nor do we hire firms to do random telemarketing while people are eating their dinner (I hate it when that happens, so would loathe working for a company that uses it). One of the reasons we don't do this is because the percentages are terrible. When using third party marketing firms it takes a long time for that money to actually start working for the charity and translate into money on the ground for programmes. For a long time the money is swallowed up by the cost of using that firm in the first place.

I supported an organisation for some time after being approached in the street (only a small amount) and was extremely dismayed when I learned that my money probably wasn't really being used for anything that I thought it was for the first couple of years because it would have been needed to pay that firm. I pulled my support for a number of reasons - that being one of them.

There are a number of firms now specifically established for marketing charities. They have their purpose and can be very useful when a charity really does not have the means to market themselves, but I wish they weren't used quite so much.

I understand why they are used, but often I truly believe It would be more cost effective for most charities to create their own in-house marketing teams.

Even with our non confrontational marketing, TEAR Fund is one of the few charities that has experienced growth through the recession. All we've done is focus on being better at what we do and helping people to understand poverty and what we can do to make a difference. There has been nothing flashy or expensive in that approach... in fact, some of the tools we have employed to connect with people have been free.

There's many areas where we can keep getting better and we can continue to grow - that won't happen with the help of an expensive, third party marketing firm that costs us, the donor and ultimately those programmes overseas that we support.

The idea that someone within a charity would embezzle donations is disgusting and a complete breach of donor trust.


ZenTiger said...

I agree with the post and Frank's comments. With something like 260 million dollars in turnover (I think) perhaps a few hundred thousand seems insignificant to some people.

All that aside, there is one concrete way this person can make amends.

It appears the money went into purchasing a luxury property and furnishings, and that IHC lawyers are preparing a court case to get the money back by selling this place.

My suggestion to her would be to meet out of court and hand over the deeds and all the property and avoid any legal costs that would reduce the return.

Perhaps the house can be converted to a useful purpose rather than selling at a reduced price? It would be fitting.

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