About a year ago, CanadaHelps published an article Canada’s charities deserve better on their website written by Brad Offman, Managing Director of the Mackenzie Charitable Giving Fund. While I agree with some of his assertions that community benefit investors (donors) have been coached to use some largely irrelevant metrics like admin or fundraising %s, I think he has missed the mark.
“the fact remains that over 85,000 other charities are doing precisely the work that most of us admire: feeding the needy, housing the homeless, nursing the sick and educating the young.” doesn’t earn them exclusive and ongoing support without discernment and investigation.
I wrote a comment to the blog that was posted on the site for a short time but has disappeared. Their post, their rules – I accept that.
I need to make the case that any metric other than impact towards solving the issue is largely irrelevant. Homeless shelters can warehouse people for a much lower cost per head than transition housing but if you are paid for the heads on mats there is little incentive to lift these people off the mats and onto their own feet. If I could find a shelter that was rapidly raising men, women and families from poverty to sustainability while honouring their dignity, it wouldn’t matter to me what their administration costs were as a percentage of expenses.Helping people out of homelessness rather than helping them live in their homelessness is something I would support.
Raising awareness about an issue is important but if it doesn’t lead to immediate, relevant and concrete action, it is just more air being blown in the wind.I understand that reinforcement and multiple messages are important factors but if you stand on your soapbox for a year and nothing changes, you need to think about your message and your tactics.
Tom Suddes post this week Does it Make the Boat Go Faster drove me back to this article and has me wondering if urgency should be the measure.