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Too many charities!

publication date: Nov 24, 2014
author/source: Bill Kennedy

Bill KennedyToo many new charities are being created in Canada each year because existing organizations aren’t reaching out enough to people who think they have something new to offer.  Quick, open the “Get Involved” section on your web site.  Do you see wording asking the reader if they have any new ideas?  Is any support offered to help stakeholders develop new approaches to the problems your charity is addressing?  Alternatively, does the wording suggest that the charity already has the answers to the problems in its existing programs and all that is really needed is the donor’s money and/or time?

Look at the wording from this page from the United Way of Greater Simcoe County in Ontario:

“Do you have an idea for community change but need funding to make it happen?”

Shouldn’t we ALL be asking that question to our stakeholders?  Shouldn’t we all be inviting people to challenge our assumptions and bring new energy to the issues we address? 

The point of social media is to invite a conversation.  The technology allows charities to talk one on one with their supporters.  However much we may know about our charitable purpose and the needs of our clients, there is always more to learn.  At the same time, if we want to teach people and invite a deeper engagement, we need to meet them where they are now.

Millennials are different, or are they?

Magazine articles titles like “How Millennials Are Changing Charitable Giving,” “Creativity Is the Currency, Nay, Philanthropy of Our Generation,” and “How Millennials Are Reshaping Charity And Online Giving” make it sound like we should be doing things differently, but how much really needs to change?  Yes, Millennials use social media more than previous generations and they have expectations that they will be able to access information using mobile devices. But the desire that their funds have a significant impact on the cause is shared by every generation.  The subheading “Real Change, Not Platitudes” applies as much to the Boomers as to the Millennials.

What has changed is the branding.  In an age where leadership skills are part of the standard high school curriculum, why are we asking for followers?  The charitable sector has always been a good avenue for young executives to hone their leadership skills.  We should be emphasizing that fact on our web and social media sites.

What should charities do?

The answer is to look for those people who have bright ideas and offer to be a mentor.  Instead of funding them, show them how to fundraise.  Instead of telling them that their idea has already been done, invite them into the conversation.  Offer them your support in terms of administration and fundraising systems, but they have to plan how to cover their costs.

Articles like this one about a Millennial starting Charity: Water to dig wells and deliver clean water in Africa make it sound like this is a new idea.  It isn’t.  There is a long list of charities involved in clean water projects in Africa.

There are over 86,000 charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.  Last year, the CRA added over 2,000 more.  When do we say enough is enough?  When people feel the urge to help someone, why do they feel they have to set up a new charity?  Why do we celebrate individuals who do it alone over those who support a team effort? But instead of complaining, let’s invite them in.

For a more comprehensive look at leveraging your existing resources and engaging new stakeholders, join us for a free lunch and learn webinar.   Bill Kennedy, CPA CA is a Certified Professional Accountant who works as a consultant helping charities get what they need from their systems and people.


How millennials reshaping charity and online giving 

Creativity is the currency, nay, philanthropy of our generation

How millennials are changing charitable giving

CRA director general’s 2014 message

Search of CRA database

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