I believe that there is a distinct and notable difference between charitable giving and philanthropy and that its distinction is being polarised by the somewhat dubious techniques that a number of charities employ to raise funds, alienating their chances of inspiring new philanthropists. It’s true that recent Government comments about fundraisers and fundraising techniques are offensive, but then again, perhaps there is no smoke without fire?
The distinct difference between charitable giving and philanthropy can be seen in the degree of foresight, interest and personal sacrifice donors make to a charity. A philanthropist is someone who is less reactionary to external commercial advertising campaigns and cold callers and instead is someone who makes a more informed judged decision about their charitable giving that is aligned with their own personal beliefs and skills. It is not just about giving money but also giving time and expertise.
Charities are in danger of alienating certain people from becoming philanthropists through employing short term ‘shock tactics’ such as cold callers, that have become increasingly widespread, to generate funds, making donors more resentful of charity instead of embracing it as a cause.
Don’t get me wrong, charitable givers who give a certain amount of money away each month to charities are making a huge difference in the world and billions of dollars are raised for charity through these means. However, modern day philanthropists desire something more.
By employing a generic model of encouraging donors to part with their cash and using the same aggressive tactics as cold callers that sell loft insulation and mobile phone insurance, many charities trivialise and commercialise the donation process. This is very short term in its outlook, alienating many sectors of society from their support and restricting the ability of donors to maintain longer-term and involved relationships with the charity.
With the primary incentive of cold calls being to extract money from the donors, little care is given into educating, inspiring and motivating donors to take a longer-term and hands on approach to philanthropy that can often be far more beneficial to the charity itself. Charities need first and foremost to increase people’s connection to and involvement in the charity sector, and there are some great examples emerging such as the Rainmaker Foundation that pairs donors with causes around the world.
I believe that charities should begin to adopt a more informative, transparent and educational approach to fundraising that increases the number of channels with which donors can interact with charities to help inspire philanthropists instead of alienate them.