The other day, the subject of thanking donors came up again on our website. This time, it was a link to a blog about how to say thank you but it’s the latest in a string of pieces from opinion-formers, on our website and elsewhere, talking about the importance of thanking donors.
The thing is, I don’t want charities to thank me for my regular, direct-debit gift. I think it’s a total waste of my donation (as well, often, as a cynical attempt to get another tenner out of me).
So, I’m now three shopping trips in and my volunteering experience is well and truly up and running. Overall it’s been pretty much successful, but not without its small hiccups.
Last week I went to a round table on stereotypes and the sector organised by Charity Leaders’ Exchange. One of the main issues that arose was the reputation of the sector.
I’d started to wonder about this already, after a couple of encounters with friends and friends of friends, who, on finding out I wrote about charities, shared some less than complimentary views about the sector.
Sex as a charitable activity? That’s an easy one, surely? The answer must be no.
Yet in the past couple of weeks, there have been two stories about organisations that have backed the idea that sector bodies could provide or support the provision of sex to disabled people.
A new set of awards by the Institute of Fundraising, the Partners in Fundraising Awards, got off to a good start last night in the hospitality suite at Lord’s cricket ground – not least because of a card sharper who entertained people in the cloakroom queue with some amazing sleight of hand. We never found out if he was part of the official entertainment or just a random fundraiser showing off a few extra tricks he had up his sleeve.
Until now I’ve never sought sponsorship for doing stuff for charity – unlike my colleague David Ainsworth, for example, who’s run two marathons for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
That changed this month, however, when I signed up for Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon for January and gave up “the demon drink”, as my mother, with her Methodist background, used to call it. Please feel free to express your admiration for this considerable sacrifice on my Justgiving page. I’ll be giving CRUK the money I save – and no, I’m not saying how many figures that goes into.
Today I’m feeling strangely nervous.
A handful of avid readers may remember that almost exactly a year to the day I pledged in a blog to fulfill a long-held desire to start volunteering. Twelve months later, that dream is finally becoming a reality.
Earlier this week, Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the chief executives body Acevo, delivered another blow to the government’s big society
In a letter to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, Bubb pointed out that the concept was “effectively dead” because the government had struggled to communicate it properly or implement it consistently. Bubb’s letter largely focused on the government’s failure to involve charities more in public sector reform or to protect them and their beneficiaries from crippling cuts to public spending.
The other day I read something fascinating in a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, the bestseller by a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist called Daniel Kahneman – probably the single most interesting book I’ve ever read about how people think.
Here’s what his research has found.
If you ask people on the street whether they’ll donate to support a pollution-free environment for dolphins, you’ll be moderately successful. If you ask people whether they want to donate to a cancer testing service for farm workers at risk of skin cancer, you won’t have much luck.
The journalist and broadcaster Mary Ann Sieghart held up the front page of the London Evening Standard and pointed to Tuesday’s splash story about the Get London Reading campaign, run with the literacy charity Beanstalk. “That says to me it’s a slow news day,” she said. “News is about events, and this isn’t really news.”
She was introducing a debate at the Media Society this week entitled Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Charities and Media Engagement, with two other journalists and three representatives from charities. Most of them – perhaps surprisingly – took a less hard-bitten line than the chair.