Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Why Do Charities Use Global Profit Making Companies To Organise Fundraising Events?

For the past few years there has been a cycle race here in Perthshire called ‘Marie Cure Cancer Care Etape Caledonia’.

It involves over 5,000 cyclists and they undertake the 81 mile course which passes through some breathtaking views. 

It hasn’t been without its critics though as some people object to local roads being closed. In remote areas it’s understandable people feel trapped and some have taken extreme measures in protest. Although I disagree with such actions I can sympathise with the disruption such road closure events make in areas where there is only one route in and out of a community. 

Most people have accepted the inconveniences because the participants were riding for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity and assumed all, or most, of the entry fees would be given to this reputable cause. On the sponsorship page of their website there’s nothing to indicate that only 10% of places booked are permitted to be used for fundraising purposes. The entrants still pay their fee (£70 in 2015) and the profits from their entrance fee goes to one of the richest showbiz and sport talent agencies in the world, IMG. Not a penny goes towards Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The only entrance fee profits which go to the charity are when all the 500 places are sold 50 ‘gold bond’ places become available. The writer of the article can’t discover how much of the entrance fee the charity made this year as IMG will not disclose the cost of overheads but he’s certainly disappointed that Marie Cure ‘feels the need to use a pan-global, profit-driven event management group to run their Etapes’.  I agree.

In past years some of my acquaintances have contributed towards this event by volunteering to assist and although necessary travel expenses could be claimed, none has done so.  This year I think it will be very different.  My physiotherapist has donated her skills free of charge to this event for 6 years and has emailed the organisers to say she is withdrawing her labour for 2015.  She’s well known in Perthshire and intends to spread the word.

Should there be an Etape cycling event in your area perhaps you could let your friends know that should they decide to volunteer they will be lining the pockets of a global profit-making organisation and not the Marie Cure charity.

It’s time the Marie Curie charity had a rethink on who they use to assist with fundraising events. I’ve no answer to the question I asked in the title other than the administrators of their fundraising section are quite content with the current arrangement.


Joe Public said...

Who's using who, Rosie?

The charity or the profit-making company?

"30 charity chiefs paid more than £100,000"

But the above is chicken-feed compared with:

"Charity chief's £653,000 pay reignites row"

The boss at Marie Curie makes £90k

Joe Public said...

Another charity with misplaced priorities:

Save the Children have NINE employees paid >£100k pa.

Their HQ lease costs £125,000. Per WEEK! (£6.5m pa)

JRB said...

Very interested to read of your misgivings over such events and that of your physiotherapist

Marie Currie is not alone in the use of such commercial event organisers, most of the leading charities now use them to stage what they perceive as ‘prestige’ events.

Why do they do it? - simple – even after the organisers take their fees and cut of any profits, the charity still stands to make more from that one event than months of public collection.

But at what price I would ask – the event organisers pack up and leave; the charity big-wigs take their bag of cash and return smiling to their head office in a city far away; leaving the local volunteers to face the anger and frustration of many local inhabitants who were left inconvenienced and put upon.

Sadly, it would appear that our charities are being forced into becoming national high income cash generating enterprises with ever more celebrity sponsored ‘grand’ events. I fear the days of the friendly local volunteer are all but over.

Like your physiotherapist it is not a situation that rests easily, and whilst I can appreciate the short term financial gain I fear the long term antagonism that is being generated will be counterproductive.

Because of this very subject, and the damage I feel it is doing here in the Highlands, earlier this year I resigned form the local committee of a national heart charity.

Clarinda said...

Having read the small print on so many 'charity' clothing bags constantly pushed through our letter-boxes - I found most clothing is send to huge sorting depots (one being a prison in Poland - free labour?)where much of the income from various precious natural fabrics is kept by the collector with a small percentage given to the superficially nominated charity.

I was amazed to discover that the income from these clothing collections in the UK alone is in the hundreds of millions if generalised across the various charities. I wrote to the local council who give licences for these collections to query the ethics of this scam. The response was of some interest but not really of any concern.

Other clothing collections, in their small print, actually sell the clothing to people in the 'third world' again giving only the tiniest proportion to the fronting charity.

I have also contacted a few charities who say they recognise the enormous profits made by the collection companies - but at least they earn some income!

The same miniscule percentage is given by huge high street firms selling so-called charity cards where most of the profit is kept by the seller.

I declare an interest in this as I volunteer to sell Christmas charity cards at our local library where the entire retail amount is given to the individual charities. What, of course, is done with the money after that may be questionable. The particular charity I represent, on a voluntary basis, does send a large proportion to medical research and prints annual medical and financial updates on the effect of the donated funds. I did however have cause a few years ago to congratulate it's local branch for moving to a snazzy address in Edinburgh from their previous office in a much less 'uptown' area.

Charity begins at home - and some charity clothing collection firms have very large homes.

Hamish said...

I return to a hobby-horse of mine:
charitable status should be abolished altogether. The main advantages of charitable status are Gift Aid and rates relief.
The former compels all taxpayers to contribute to my favoured charities and the latter is partly responsible for the number of high street premises occupied by charities.
When I last visited Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh (a Disneyland style operation) I was asked to Gift-Aid the entrance fee. I should have said, well if it's a donation to charity, there is no obligation on me to pay it.
I'm not a Scrooge and support a number of good causes by voluntary work as well as financially, but if charities operate as businesses, they should be taxed as businesses.

JimS said...

Your badly behaved 'iframes' are driving me mad again (the black hole that takes over the top left corner of the desktop).

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever, ever, ever heard of a charity closing because they had overcome the problems they were set up to address? No. Not a one.

That means that every charity out there is failing if not completely then by degree.

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