Friday, July 27, 2012

"I'll Never Donate To You Again"

It's a powerful threat, isn't it?

The thoughts of an individual telling you, a charity, that you'll never receive another cent from them is scary and one that is usually taken seriously.

But the threat has become bandied about with members of the public conveniently threatening charities with a boycott because they use chuggers, spend too much on admin, travel business class, said something wrong on Twitter, or just because of something someone said they once heard.

I call the rumours the Captain Pugwash Syndrome. Someone once claimed that the cartoon Captain Pugwash contained characters such as Master Bates, Seaman Staines and Roger The Cabin Boy. It didn't, but the people who heard the rumour passed it on as fact and the next set of people in the chain absorbed the information as absolute fact. Charities fall victim to these kind of rumours all the time.

"I'll never donate to you again."

Charities I deal with hear this threat all the time. Individuals claim they will never donate again because the charity is using the most-cost effective form of fundraising available and generating hundreds of thousands of Euro each year. The individual just happens to dislike it and the biggest defence they have at their disposal is this threat.

Personally I think they weren't going to donate again anyway. It's a convenient excuse. On more than one occassion we've discovered that the person who "will never donate again" had never donated in the first place.

But it's still scary for the charity. It's scary because most of the time they can't or won't defend themselves. It's not like the private sector where the threat to "never buy your product again" usually falls on deaf ears. Charities take it seriously...because they're nice...and genuinely consider eliminating their most cost-effective form of fundraising because one or two people said they would never donate again. It's amazing.

But you don't hear it as much in the private sector.


Well, because it's inconvenient to boycott a product or a service.

Whereas a donor won't really notice if they 'give up' a charity, they'll notice if they give up their IBM computer (because of that whole Holocaust thing), give up their iPhone (because of that whole mass-suicide thing), give up driving to work (because of that whole killing the planet thing), boycott blood diamonds (because they're blood diamonds), change their mobile phone battery (doublecheck yours...there might be traces of blood on it), give up cows' milk (but soy milk tastes funny!), etc.

No, that's too much of a hassle.

But never donating to you again? So easy. And the truth is for the majority of the public charities are interchangeable. This year's charity will be replaced next year. "I'll never donate to you again" is the petty threat that's thrown from the lifeboat back to the sinking ship. It's the recently dumped girlfriend that tells you she cheated on you anyway.

So what are you going to say to the next person that tells you they will never donate to you again?


  1. Ah yes, we've found exactly the same thing. The righteously indignant, who call to lecture us about the cost of a "begging letter", have never given at all. Apparently they don't know we can check our donor database =)

    My favourite reply is "I may disagree but I certainly admire the strength of your convictions". This usually leads to sputtering and a slow wind down to silence. I then encourage them to follow their convictions and support a charity they are happy with. It's a real rant stopper.


    1. "I may disagree but I certainly admire the strength of your convictions" - That is beautiful, Denisa!