Saturday, January 17, 2009

OverFishing - Charities and long term image

*Doorbell rings*
Ed: Hello? (seeing its a representative of Concern)
Man: Oh hello I was just wondering if you would like to support... (launches into what would inevitably be a long drawn out spiel)
Ed: Listen, thanks for coming around but I won’t waste your time (implying go away)
Man: Oh I see, what’s the matter, you don’t like Concern?
Ed: Gives angry stare and shuts the door*

The last few years have seen the major charitable organisations in Ireland turn to somewhat questionable methods in order to gain the most revenue they can, and I suppose the change represents a shift to a more “Target driven” culture in these organisations.

The most visible and hideously annoying example of this are the representatives that hit the streets and harass the public (with often questionable methods) to “take a few minutes” of our time to be bullied into giving a standing order to the charity in Question. The shift has been a very definite move towards contracting out private firms, who pay their reps €13 an hour to pester the public, and is something find a little disturbing to be honest, and I’m not sure is particularly in line with the spirit of “charitable” donations.

With consumer confidence extremely low, and many people either feeling, or fearing the consequences of the economic downturn, I would imagine that those who might have given money to a charity in better times will reconsider this. As a consequence I think this will lead to a rise in the level of the “aggressive” approach of gaining revenue.

And to be fair, it will probably work, pester people a little bit harder and they may pay up, however I think that the conduct of these charities, and what their marketing managers consider to be acceptable marketing practices are ultimately going to be harmful in the long run. By annoying/infuriating large sections of the public I think they are ensuring that they person will have a negative view of that charity in the long run, and in turn will be unlikely to donate money to them.

I like to think that the situation is similar to the problem of over fishing, you will get good returns now, but one or two years down the line what have you done to your market/fish stocks. The way things are going I think most of the major charities will have tarnished their images substantially and will regret the “hard selling” conducted during the tougher times.