Too many charities causes Charity Fatigue

Duplicate charities competing for the same donor dollar are being encouraged to join forces to address increasing donor fatigue and cynicism.

Canterbury Medical Research Foundation chief executive Kate Russell has worked in the charity sector for the last 25 years and says New Zealand has always had a “very high” number of charities for its size.

“We have a really good welfare system and I guess people have grown up with that idea of looking after people less fortunate, which is really good.”

She had witnessed increasing competition between those supporting similar causes over the last five years though.

Department of Internal Affairs figures showed Christchurch has 2476 registered charities as of January 5. In the 2010-11 financial year, the city had 2311 registered charities.

The number of charities across New Zealand was also growing, with 27,847 registered as of March 27, up from 27,575 during the 2015-16 financial year and 26,949 the year before.

“There is a heck of a lot of duplication now. Duplication is the thing that worries me the most because unless it’s a small family run charitable trust, then they all need offices, a manager, photocopier and they all need phones and there are no economies of scale,” Russell said.

Donor fatigue, cynicism, and weariness were driving people to online fundraising sites like Givealittle and Every Day Hero.

“They’re so successful because donors are so weary of giving money to big machines now because they don’t want their money to go to admin.”

The problem started when professional companies took over the fundraising for certain causes. ?Why would you do it yourself at an immense cost in time and effort when you can just point someone at it and they will deliver you $100,000. ? Of course, $400,000 went into their pockets for overheads.

The problem then is that the business that does fundraising can’t grow until there is more work for them. ?So they start encouraging others to fundraise. ?They weren’t to start with, so when they are told they can lend their good name to this company to go do whatever they do on their behalf and get cold hard cash without lifting a finger… they say yes.

But slowly this is killing public goodwill. ?I know of people that now refuse to give anything to door to door collectors because of it, whereas they used to be generous to them. ?The problem is the volume of causes knocking on the door. ?It used to be just 3 or 4 signature days a year, but if you look into it, there is now something being collected for every single week and even multiple charities a week.

People generally have a number of causes that mean something to them due to direct experience. ?For the other charities to get any cut-through, they need to be aggressive and loud. ?But that causes significant overheads…


– Stuff