What would grand­ma say?

Written by
Peter Goudkamp
August 06, 2015

Not so long ago I asked staff of the communication and fundraising department at a certain large charity if they were actually supporting their own cause. Only 22 per cent actually did. So I asked myself, ‘What would my grandmother say of this?’

I have to tell you a little bit about my grandmother. She was (she died a couple of years ago) every charity’s dream donor. A very religious woman, who always felt that other people who were in need should be taken care of, should be helped when they needed help. So she supported many charities, her local church being one of the most important. Over the years, that added up to many thousands of euros.

I always kept that in mind when making my decisions while I worked at the Protestant Church: would I be able to explain to my grandmother that the money she gave all her life was well spent? It kept me keen on not spending money haphazardly be it for huge mailings, or a cup of coffee.

Now let’s go back to the 22 per cent who said yes or, better, to the 78 per cent that didn’t. They gave various reasons for not giving money to the charity they work for. Let us go over them and ask my grandmother for her opinion.

I already work here

Well, that’s your choice’, she would say. ‘It’s your job and you get paid for it, don’t you? And if that pay is not to your satisfaction, maybe you should find another job?’

I need the money myself

‘Are you serious? And you’re asking the blue rinse brigade for money? You’re actually saying that all these OAPs like me are better off than you? Maybe you should find another job!’

I believe our organisation is not doing a good job spending donors’ money

Somewhat agitated she’d reply, ‘Then go out and do something about it and in the meantime stop asking other people for their money. And if that doesn’t succeed, maybe you should find another job!’

‘I already give so much to other charities

By now she would start laughing. ‘You’re kidding me, right? You give to others but not to your own? That’s so ridiculous that I urge you to find another job!’

These were more or less the reasons people gave for not supporting their own charities. And none of them would convince my grandmother, or did convince me for that matter. I honestly cannot believe that a fundraiser could go out and ask other people for their money, without giving himself, or indeed herself. What do you say when someone asks you how much you give? Is there any reason for not giving?

I believe fundraising is passion above all. And with that passion comes dedication to the cause. And putting your money where your mouth is. I dare you reader: leave a comment and tell me whether you give to your own charity or not and please tell me why if you don’t.

Better yet, try to convince my grandmother. Or any other donor that happily supports your charity …

About the author: Peter Goudkamp

Peter Goudkamp has been a fundraiser for many years in many different roles. He is now director of fundraising and communications at World Animal Protection in the Netherlands.

Related case studies or articles

The seven deadly sins of fundraising appeals and how to avoid them

Rachel Beer shares some top tips and advice on what she’s learnt about individual giving.

Read more

Major gifts: fundraising from the frontlines

In this article Rebecca Davies tells us how golfing has helped to improve her major gift fundraising.

Read more

The next big thing in fundraising is closer than you think

If you’re wondering what the next big thing in fundraising then here are some thought-provoking words from Alison McCants.

Read more

Also in Categories