I’ve noticed a more consumer-centric trend in charitable giving that has me troubled.
At what point does philanthropy become just another transaction like any retail encounter, another version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – loaded with gimmicks, goodies and incentives? Cause-related marketing, premiums, popularity contests driven by voting on corporate websites and other similar self-interested programs are showing up with increasing frequency.
Perhaps these strategies will coerce more donations, and get more people involved in our work. We can only hope so. But in the long run I fear the loss of the spirit of philanthropy.
People often say that to raise more money we should sell this or that. But that’s not what we do. We are here to provide medical care to sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.
While a little entrepreneurial spirit is useful in fundraising, I don’t think you give to WRC because you want to receive a set of note cards or to help us fund a WRC clothing line. You give because it feels good to support a cause with a dedicated mission and because you trust us to use those funds for patient care.
Our year-end appeal, like many other nonprofits’, highlights our accomplishments this year. I also talk about what motivates us to give. What motivates you to give? The joy of seeing photos of a swan release? Our recent video of a Red Fox release after we had treated it for mange? Or maybe because others may not be able to give and you want to make sure WRC is around for generations to come?
At the end of the day I believe philanthropy should be simply promoting the welfare of others. That’s what makes a strong community. And that’s in all our self-interest.
On behalf of all the people who count on WRC and of our patients who have no other voice, thank you for Giving.