Dilemma: How Much Is Too Much?

I have a dilemma.

I have recently met with an entrepreneur who runs a call centre and who can show that he brings in nearly R2 million a year for the charities he is contracted to. His team works through the telephone directories, calling people and collecting donations essentially on my behalf.

This is wonderful. It would wipe out the gap in my fundraising target, at no risk to me and with no effort.

Essentially, I sit back and watch the money roll in.

But the split is 60 percent to him. 40 percent to our organisation.

And I am grappling with this.

I firmly believe that a significant part of the work of any fundraiser is to build trust among Joe Public to invest in us. That JP needs to know that the R100 he donates to me, is going to the cause and his money enables us to do the work that we do. My long-term ideal is a South African Joe Public that generously gives and a transparent NGO sector that accounts well on those pennies spent. So JP knows what percentage goes to administration and what percentage goes to field work.

At the same time I would love JP to understand that charity world is not a charity: that we have significant operational costs. That the complexity of our country requires an extensive network of services on the ground which means high staff and administration costs. That yes, his donation pays for something as dull as insurance. Or for cars.  And yes – decent salaries for professional, skilled staff. Charity work is not free: we are a complex sector, which requires greater professional recognition and an understanding that it costs.

So.

Is it fair for someone to donate R100 of which R60 goes into the mechanics of fundraising and R40 to the organisation to then cover administration and operational costs? Am I being two-faced by not recognising the money it costs my businessman to bring in money?

Is the split from my tele-fundraiser, any different to the roughly 50 percent that WASPS take for an SMS donation?

Should I just see the money in my bank account, and stop being prissy about the ethics?

Or should the sector even be tolerating splits like the 60/40 put to me?? Is it reasonable? Should we be more open about the money that we spend on raising money and have commitments to Joe Public on what goes to the cause and what to operational costs?

It is a dilemma.

And at 3am this morning, I still didn't have an answer.

- Kerryn Krige is Director: Communications and Income Development for Child Welfare South Africa. This is written in her personal capacity and in no way reflects the views of the organisation.

 

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