Opinion: Third Voice - The McDonald's School of Fundraising? No thanks

Giles Morris, a trusts fundraiser with an international development charity. He writes in a personal capacity

Passion is a word that fundraisers use a lot, and with good reason - it should define the third sector. The question is how to capture this elusive emotion in our fundraising work and communicate it to our supporters.

At one session of this month's Institute of Fundraising convention, institute chair Joe Saxton regretted how the passion has been wrung out of organisations.

At the same time, he argued that charities need to package their work for supporters so that the donor can understand what his or her money is paying for.

As a solution, Saxton proposed the McDonald's Happy Meal as a model for effective fundraising: you get your fries, a drink and a toy - and the children love it.

But isn't it the case that we sometimes underestimate our donors? Fundraisers looking to the future often worry that Generation X - those born after 1965 - seem to have none of the automatic propensity to give to charity displayed by their parents and grandparents.

That doesn't mean disinterested altruism is ultimately doomed. Surely if Live 8 proved anything, it is that people under 40 are concerned about those less fortunate and that they're willing to give without necessarily expecting anything in return.

Maybe we're not communicating properly with younger donors, and perhaps looking for slicker and slicker packaging will just make the problem worse.

Surely we should aspire to offer our supporters something different from the corporate sector.

Characters such as Sir Bob Geldof are inspiring because they cut through the brand and the packaging and say something real. "Give us your ****ing money!" doesn't presume you want a warm glow at the end of it or a Happy Meal toy. It doesn't patronise, nor does it assume that a £2-a-month donation is all it takes to solve the problems of the world. It works because it's honest and it's real.

As consumers, we're exposed to an average of 30,000 brands a month. Consumers, like cockroaches sprayed with poison, become immune after a while. Those under the age of 40 have been exposed to more marketing, more brands and more fancy packaging than their parents and grandparents could have thought possible.

Perhaps the generation that made Naomi Klein's anti-corporate call to arms No Logo a bestseller want something else?

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