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Charitable Fundraising: A Catch 22

Alex Kruczkowski - 11 October, 2017


“Philanthropy is the market for love; it is the market for all those people for whom there is no other market coming”. A fact that has been widely accepted – yet when people want to help others and make a living doing so it is frowned upon. As such, charitable organizations are faced with a catch 22: the public wants them to grow, but in order to grow they need overhead. Generally, organizations with higher overhead are thought to be less worthy of donations, resulting in slower growth and a smaller positive impact.

Taking on overhead, additional staff, or running advertising campaigns is seen as downright despicable. Everyone wants to see their dollar go directly to the cause but does not consider the needs of those working at the charity nor the future of the non-profit industry. The root of the problem stems from the perception that overhead, staffing, fundraising, etc… is not part of the solution, when in fact without these factors charities and philanthropic groups are unable to grow.

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta does an outstanding job explaining why “The way we think about charity is dead wrong” in his TED talk.

Ignoring charitable overhead expenses would be wrong – no one wants to be donating their resources to an organization that will squander them. However, next time you see larger overhead costs for a philanthropic group do not forget that they often cannot function without this “overhead”. It directly aids them in their mission and helps them have a larger impact on the issue that they are addressing. Instead: “Ask them about the scale of their dreams – and what resources they need to make them come true”.