Feb 2009 - David Anttony
Charity ratings are a fickle thing with highly rated charities holding the number 1 position today being overtaken by new charities coming from nowhere. Charity Water is a recent and amazing example of this. Originality and the power of the Internet, are driving the ratings of brand new charities through the roof. A charity may not know today with a non-existent rating, but tomorrow it can be rated as number one by the New York Times as being the most amazing charity ever, and wham their rating goes from zero right to the top overnight.
Because of the power the mass communication media have over the people, when a charity is in the good books of the media, it expands very quickly and manages to get a lot of charitable giving. By that same yardstick, when media do not have much interest in propping up a given charity, its rating also plummets in the same proportion.
Directory lists of charity rating
With steadily rising distrust and morality guardians of charity being ever suspicious of charity problems like transgression, having pretty large amounts of money spent on the running of charities or mishandling of funds, listings of charity ratings are booming. It is real quaint that humanitarian institutions that are meant for giving others are under the watchful eye of charity watchdogs. The whole idea of benevolence is getting a bit problematical!
Institutions like Givespot.com, Guidestar.org etc. provide comprehensive listings of charity ratings. GiveSpot 100 list is the list of the 100 highest ranking charities that is provided by Givespot.com. Another one that provides similar data is charitynavigator.com which has a list of the top ten charities as well a charity check system. Finding out charities is made easy by this. The biggest charity director of US is Guidestar.org with lots of free data on charity as well as information that can be availed for payment. Though its name gives a different impression, Better Business Bureau is a charity directory that gives a list of both commercial and non-profit ventures of USA.
With enough charity rating guides, there is no data shortage for anyone who wants to get information on the 100 top charities, but what constitutes real rating is something different. What in reality makes a charity superior has nothing much to do with its ratings. There are characteristics that make an organization, whether charity based or otherwise, stand out from the rest.
Charity Ratings and belief in the public
A YouGov poll of 2005 stated that about 56 percent of the British population did not have a considerable amount of belief even in well known global charities like Oxfam and Save the Children. Even among the charities that had a good charity rating, only about 15 percent enjoyed the public’s belief in them.
Charity Critics’ Warnings are profuse
Belief in charities is at an all time low these days. Public can hardly be blamed for this. Charity watchdogs are ringing warning bells of charity institutions spending even up to 60% of the amount collected on overheads that include big salaries for managers so that very little remains for real charity giving.
Recent analyses reveal that just the cost of raising funds could amount to about 18% in UK and 20% in Australia. The studies of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in USA put the amount to be about 30%. Administrative expenses are in addition to this and could be higher. Many charity givers find that this is the main problem, more so when charity giving grabs media attention as was the case in Singapore a couple of years ago. Such unwelcome focus becomes conducive to a decrease in charity giving which is quite unpleasant.
Charity ratings mystery revealed
There is little difference between businesses and charities when it comes to attracting money. Their end use of the money is of course different, but their special secrets to attracting it in the first place are much the same.
To increase the charity rating as well as attract better flow of funds the secret can be found in a single word - attraction.
When we see an object and would like to buy it, or make an investment in it, or want to connect with it, we tend to take a decision on the basis of how tempting it is to us. If it is very appealing, we might instantly buy it or plan to get it but if it is not all that tempting, we would definitely postpone the idea.
Charity Water is highly attractive and hence why it’s charity-rating sky rocked so quickly and the media got behind the idea. The simple idea of selling a bottle of charity water for a premium price with the extra profit been giving as a donation to the needy to access clean water was highly attractive.
The elements making up the attractiveness for Charity Water and boosting it’s ratings are quite obvious.
* They have a cool name - who would think of calling a charity Charity WaterThe person behind the charity was on overdrive with passion in sharing about their idea
* They had a simple, single and clear message and mission - sell water give water - Buy One Give One
* Their focus was on how to solve the problem and not the problem itself. It is important for charities to properly define their focus if they want people to rate them highly. No one has interest in getting their attention turned to the unpleasant things in life. People want a positive focus. So when they are told that they can make a positive change in the lives of others by buying a bottle of water they feel happy.
How to reduce you Charity Ratings in a heart beat
The fastest way in which a charity’s ratings would go down is when it turns itself less tempting by centring its attention on the problem. People are by and large disinclined to listen to negative things. On the contrary, most people are keen on listening to positive things that involve verve, dynamism, motivation and effort to bring in a fresh vision.
To prove this, all we have to do is look at ourselves in the company of our kids and know how our response is positive when children make a request in an exuberant, polite and eager manner. The same request, if made in an irritating or maudlin way, might elicit a negative response.
The picture a charity projects would strongly affect its ratings. By projecting an arousing and motivating picture of itself it will be able to influence people well. Then people will be ready to give more in response.
Social Enterprises improve Charity Ratings and solve the problems in Getting Funds
Social Enterprise is a new business paradigm that arose some time ago. This endeavour combines in it a commercial enterprise and charity. This has been initiated by those who are enthusiastic of solving social problems but are not satisfied with the pattern of charity organizations.
Many social entrepreneurs would never survive in traditional business because their ethical and moral values would always be in conflict with many of the business decisions made. Social Enterprise is a perfect arena for these very inspiring and valuable individuals who choose to use the business vehicle to effect social and global change. One of the most famous Social Entrepreneurs of course is Muhammad Yunus who was the first businessperson ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2006.
A comparatively new global social venture, Buy1GIVE1, also known as B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1), combines commercial activities with noble causes and charity organisations across the globe. Buy1GIVE1 has reduced the costs of administration and fundraising so completely that it is able to give away the whole of the funds it gets. It functions in a way quite similar to online enterprises like Kiva.org, which has been given support by Bill Clinton; Buy1GIVE1 is a substitute for the conventional style of direct giving to charities. Lots of people find them a more practical way for making donations while receiving valuable things in return.
Entrepreneurs, who are forever on the lookout for avenues to give in return to the society in effectual ways and to donate to beneficial charitable causes, realise the exemplary worth and strong marketing principles of organisations like Buy1GIVE1. Each and every sale that is made makes a change - not merely philanthropically. It makes a change with its strong impact as well, for every sale that is made becomes a poignant story that is an eye-opener. Buy1Give1 is a far cry from the commercial enterprises that might donate a million dollars to charity, for it lets the customers fully relish the joy of giving. The transaction-based giving of Buy1Give1 is a lesson in perfection.
Businesses like Buy1GIVE1 profile charities and it tends to be the charities or worthy causes as they call them, that are the most attractive that receive the most contributions. Intrinsically business owners understand the power of attraction and they tend to go with non-profit causes that have the best story rather than look at their direct rating. They intrinsically know that their customers will connect with a better story and not ever think about a charities rating.
The Australian company Maple Muesli collaborates with an Indian charity called Midday Meals in the city of Mumbai. Whenever someone buys a bag of muesli, the contribution from it feeds a needy child there. A meal for a child costs only the equivalent of 30 US cents and the charity in this way feeds 125,000 kids in Mumbai every day. This makes the children desist from begging, keeps them away from streets, and makes them remain in school.
The company has managed to advertise the worthy cause of the charity Midday Meals in Australia. The inspiring story is continuously shared by Maple Muesli with all their buyers which has resulted in increased rating for the institution of Midday Meals in Mumbai, though all that the charity does is provide a daily lunch for those needy children. This is the era of Effective Giving - The sun has almost set on the Era of Plain Charity Donations.
A change is impending in the setting of the top 100 charities and would become visible in a few years as more novel and productive ways of charitable giving take shape. Nowadays only limited choices exist for making donations for charitable purposes. All the existing ones are not good enough to create enough difference.
Alternative Charity Ratings
Methods of charity have changed over the years and newer ways are making their presence, some of which are rated below. Comparison Points of Charity.
Some better known and not so well-known charities as well as Social Enterprises are evaluated and rated below so as to be of help to those who contribute to these.
THE SALVATION ARMY
WAY TO GIVING: DIRECT GIVING
One of the Top 100 charities in the world - The Salvation Army is a charity that individuals and businesses often donate to directly.
CANDOUR - B - Insufficient candour - Lots of money is donated - but result is not completely quantifiable.
MARKETING VALUE TO BUSINESS - C - Businesses’ one-off contributions to Salvation Army may be mentioned in the press.
FUNDRAISING COSTS - B - Spends millions of dollars annually to raise funds.
DONORS’ CHOICE POTENTIALS -B- For those who want to give directly, there are plenty of charities to choose from.
PROMISE FOR GLOBAL CHANGE -C- No potential noticed for bringing about a market change.
ROUTE TO GIVING: MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Product (RED) is a brand that enters into partnership with companies, which then creates products with its logo, a percentage of which goes to fighting AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa.
CANDOUR - B - Insufficient candour - Lots of money is donated - but result is not completely quantifiable.
BENEFIT FOR THE BUSINESS - A - Popular among business ventures as well as people as it is supported by charismatic personnel like Bono and Oprah Winfrey. Marketing results are however not fully traceable.
COSTS OF FUNDRAISING - C -Simply splurges money on advertising - it would be far better if that money is sent directly to Africa.
CONTRIBUTORS’CHOICE OF CHARITY - C - Partner businesses do not have much choice in the charities that receive their contributions - all are in Africa.
ABILITY FOR EFFECTING A CHANGE - B - All those who collaborate with Products (RED) are big enterprises and all the income is spent on Africa.
THE BODY SHOP
WAY TO GIVING: BUSINESS TRADE & GIVING
The Body Shop is involved in community trade to help economically backward countries and makes large donations to causes from the profit they generate.
OPENNESS - B - Not sufficiently open - Plenty of money is being collected - but the results are not always completely clear.
ADVANTAGE TO BUSINESS - A-tve - Clients are by and large happy to become part of the community trade and are encouraged to buy more - the enterprise could afford to be more visible.
EXPENSES FOR RAISING FUNDS - A - Costs are kept low - Business design is good enough to attract large contributions and further community trade.
DONORS’ CHOICE POTENTIALS - A - Ventures that donate has the option to decide in what way their donations are to be used.
POTENTIAL FOR REAL GLOBAL CHANGE - B - Businesses’ giving back is great - but very few take the added effort to push for change like Body Shop.
WAY TO GIVING: EVENT FUNDRAISING
Live Earth consisted of a string of global musical programmes which set in motion a three-year campaign to battle climate change and was held on July 7, 2007.
CANDOUR - F - As per the reports of the site Intelligent Giving, satisfactory accounts were not produced on the proceeds from the sales of tickets.
MARKETING VALUE TO BUSINESS - B - Business sponsors got good coverage - but it was only a one time event and it is not easy to test and measure results.
FUNDRAISING COSTS - C - Spent millions of dollars on advertising on what some say was an unsuccessful event, which had no real goals.
CONTRIBUTORS’CHOICE OF CHARITY - C - Only three charities received funds.
ABILITY FOR EFFECTING A CHANGE - C - Occasions like this can be managed only yearly or may be still rarely. The earnings are mostly donated to charities that are already established.
Buy1GIVE1 (B1G1 )
ROUTE TO GIVING: SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
B1G1 is a brand licensed to collaborate with any enterprise - uniting them with any cause across the globe. A fully comprehensive model.
CANDOUR - A - By giving for particular causes, makes sure that funds go exactly for that which it is intended. Customers get information on how exactly their money has made a change - i.e. the children whom it helped, or the environmental cause it protected.
BENEFIT FOR THE BUSINESS - A+tve - Superb marketing value as a result of:
* Measurable giving * Media attraction * Good stories * Word of mouth * Repeat customers
COSTS OF FUNDRAISING - A+tve - Absolutely no cost - B1G1 can oversee a charity’s needs for raising funds and also manage much of the administration as well. So the funds go entirely to the charity.
DONOR’S CHOICE OF CHARITY - A - Any donor can contribute to a specific charity, or they can insist on giving to specific causes such as food, environment, or instruction.
ABILITY FOR AFFECTING A CHANGE - A - Infinite. If increasing number of businesses can team up with charities worldwide, the possibility for real change is boundless.
You Would Think Giving away Money Would Be No Big Deal!”
Giving away money appears simple on the face of it - it just involves pulling out notes or writing a cheque or punching in a credit card. But reality is a bit different. George Sores, who has donated billions to charity, insists that effective giving is a very complicated business. Underdeveloped nations receive a lot of money in aid year after year but the changes effected do not seem to be proportionate.
People asking smarter questions will bring about the needed change. Social Entrepreneurs like Mohamed Yunis, Nobel Prize winner, creating innovative solutions to poverty and environmental issues with Micro Finance are carving the way to a new future where business initiatives, social enterprise and conscious consumerism transform our world. Initiatives like The Body Shop’s ‘Trade - Not Aid’ need to be replicated. New ideas like Buy1GIVE1 need to be embraced. The value of social enterprise needs to be recognised.
Bill Gates, when asked how one can make a difference in the world, pointed to the Internet. Kiva.org and Buy1GIVE1 (www.b1g1.com) are organisations that add value to the giver. With Kiva.org, people can receive email journal updates from the business they have sponsored. This happens with Buy1GIVE1 as well. Businesses also get the added benefit of marketing stories to tell their customers: buy a laptop with us, and we give one computer to someone who cannot afford it.
Other methods for improving your Charity Ratings
Make sure that you have an open attitude, use the laptop effectively, and keep apart a little time to observe the novel and wonderful systems of charity that are being born. These function through the internet and are mostly network based.
As of now if one is not connected with good international networks via the internet, the chances of losing out are substantial even with good charity rating, tomorrow things are bound to change - totally.
Lots of companies nowadays make their appearance out of nowhere and are sold a few years later for billions of dollars. This was a scenario that would have been considered impossible a decade ago. But today this is a normal phenomenon. What every one of these internet companies primarily do is to tap into global networks or even perhaps create one themselves.
Buy1GIVE1 (Buy One Give One)
Buy1GIVE1 is a comparatively new Social Enterprise established in 1997 by a Japanese lady named Masami Sato. Today any business globally can be a member of Buy1GIVE1. The membership fee for smaller enterprises is as low as $1 for a day. Contributions can also be as low as one cent on a sale made. Buy1GIVE1 is spearheading the Buy One Give One transaction-based giving global movement. For any enterprise or charity requirement, working jointly with Buy1GIVE1 is very simple. It is perfectly structured and accommodating enough to adjust to the requirements of its partners. An organisation can connect its products or services with any charity endeavour (Buy1GIVE1’s or their own) and each time a sale is made, the sale has to be recorded and the input paid at the end of a specific period. The amount can be sent through Buy1GIVE1 or directly to the concerned charity.
If you are not forging an alliance with Buy1GIVE1 and encouraging your business sponsors to become Buy1GIVE1 members you will be missing our more and more as this amazing enterprise makes a huge impact in the world of giving.
The dawn of a new age in charity giving
Organizations that have been non-entities just a couple of months ago have now invaded internet with resounding user acceptance. Having an online presence on sites like MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, NING or TipJoy are becoming survival requirements. Likewise companies like The Present, Buy1GIVE1 and Kiva are organisations that one should build a relationship with. These are the avant garde institutions that help to create and sustain charity ratings. Now is the time to give new life to a perfect future.