One Percent Difference – National Giving or National Trusting?

Last week saw the launch of the “One Percent Difference” campaign – “An opportunity to get the ‘ask’ right, and elevate fundraising and philanthropy in Ireland to a new level.” Yes, there are issues with it, but I like the website, the TV ad and the sentiment. Charities collaborating can only be a good thing and I’m grateful to the organisers.

But is it what the sector needs?

The One Percent Difference campaign quite rightly tries to highlight that, yes, of course you can afford to donate 1% of your time or money. But I would argue the barrier to giving for most people is not the money…it’s a lack of belief.

The people who are responding to the 1% difference campaign so far are those that already give more than 1% of their time and money to causes that deserve it. The people who don’t already give 1% are those that simply don’t believe the money will be used wisely, that don’t think charities are making a difference, that think you’re wasting money. They get more pleasure from buying things for their kids, their friends and themselves because they see the world change around them when they do.

You know when someone asks you if you want to go out on Friday night and you can’t afford it? And then someone you really like asks you if you want to go out and you find the money?

Perhaps we don’t need a National Giving Campaign – “a collection bucket in another format” – yet. Perhaps we need a campaign on trust and a campaign on impact. Perhaps we need to show what your donation achieves. We need to show how and why your money is spent. We need to show that your work works. We need to show that lives are changed. We need to show that most charity staff work their asses off despite the fact they could earn 22% more in the private sector. We need to show it’s almost always not a scam. We need to show impact.

And if we show that then the giving will follow.

I’ve compared it before to the Got Milk campaign in the U.S. – People didn’t stop drinking milk in the ’90s because they couldn’t afford it. They moved their spending to other drinks because they believed Coke tasted so much better and they would be like Michael Jackson if they drank Pepsi. And the Got Milk campaign was dairy-police’s attempt to change that.

As One Percent Difference pointed out, we’re spending €6 billion a year on alcohol. People still smoke (seriously). We’re queuing for the new iPhone. The existence of wax museums and ghost tours is a clear indicator that people can afford to donate more.

And charities can do more. Only 2% of charities use the telephone to fundraise. Only 50% reply to e-mails. Charities spend an unnecessary amount on bank charges and payment processing. There are donors ready to give and charities aren’t allowing them to do so. Are you ready for someone to offer you their 1%?

We need to get rid of the notion of admin costs and wasted money. We need to get rid of the myth that we “don’t want better regulation”. We need to regain trust. There is more waste, inflated pay and mistakes in the private sector – but it’s louder in the community and voluntary sector. Let’s fix that.

And in the meantime let’s embrace the One Percent Difference campaign, and let’s improve it:

  • Let’s get a donation facility on the site (why add an additional step? Sponsor.ie would be happy to help like we did with Better Together).
  • Let’s use it to promote planned, regular giving.
  • Let’s work it in to our messaging and get a concrete plan about what charities should be doing with it.
  • If you already give 1% then give 2%. Or 5%. Or 15%. Let’s give until it stings a little.
  • Let’s get a call-to-action – how do you want my 1% and what’s involved step-by-step?
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