Poll: should private companies profit from charity fundraising?

Fundraising is in the spotlight after a series of scandals over pressure tactics used to get people to give. Should private companies be able to profit from fundraising at all?

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9th June 2015 by Susan Smith 4 Comments

Should private companies profit from charity fundraising?

Poll results (total votes: 215)

Should private companies profit from charity fundraising?

The Fundraising Standards Board report into the death of Olive Cooke has called for a much stronger code of fundraising practise, claiming fundraisers need to be reined in and the public given more control over how they are contacted for donations. The report comes just days after an undercover reporter for a Sunday newspaper revealed pressure tactics being used in a fundraising call centre. The centre, which is run by private company Listen Ltd, is just one of many private companies making money out of charity fundraising. So, will strengthening the code be enough? Can fundraisers be trusted not to use a hard sell if their aim is to make a profit for private enterprise? Shouldn't all charity fundraising be not-for-profit? What do you think? 

Please leave a comment after you've voted.

11th June 2015 by John Brady

I appreciate my view is a minority – so far in the polling –w but yes companies should be able to profit.Take for example online donations where platforms are now ubiquitous. In the infancy of digital giving the UK had no off the shelf giving platform. Back then if it were not for Just Giving charities would have had to build their own secure digital platform. Quite tricky for a small charity with zero or few skills in that are and quite risky. Now my view may not be fashionable but Just Giving pioneered this technology and were it not for a profit making company blazing the trail who knows where digital giving with online web pages would be today.Non profits were tried, who remembers SCVO’s own attempt with workwithus. But many charities found them a poor substitute. And lets face it it was hardly innovative fun and funky for the donor or event participant. Yes I know there are now non-profit versions now but they are not non-cost.There are many other areas of fundraising where it would cost charities more to develop capacity, skills and expertise they simply don’t have rather than outsourcing.So in this hothouse debate lets separate the issues, bad practice is wrong whether it is happens within a charity or within a commercial company. And let’s not pretend that fundraising costs are either non-existent or a bad thing in itself. Excessive costs and excessive profits are bad, but who judges bad.

12th June 2015 by James Jopling

I agree with a lot of what John says. To full reflect the concerns this question then you'd need to widen it to 'should private companies profit from charities?'. Full stop. Should the letterhead we write thankyous' on be provided at cost price? Should the photographer who captured the images receive more than the living wage for their work? How should our landlord charge for the office space we use? Once fully privatised should the Royal Mail profit from the letter we send? None of these are on the horizon and so until fundraising is a zero cost activity we need to continue to work harder to inform and be open about costs wherever we can. From memory much of the NFP Synergy work into charity admin costs, people over estimate the % of their donation that goes on admin. So we have an opportunity to realistically talk about the costs of fundraising and all our work. But getting charities onto a consistent footing to make such arguments consistently is like herding cats made of jelly.

16th June 2015 by Tiiu-Imbi Miller

Most of the points have been well made by John Brady and James Jopling. I prefer to give to volunteers, being one myself I have a fellow feeling, but it is ridiculous to expect charities to be run just by volunteers. Ours is, but not from choice. If we had the money to pay staff, or maybe fund raisers, we would achieve a great deal more.

16th June 2015 by Penelope Blackwell

Charities and their fundraising teams have to buy all sorts of things from the private sector, from stationery to on-line platforms (see John Brady's comments), and to suggest private companies should not benefit from any charitable activity is naive in the extreme.