We have received wrapping paper, stickers, bookmarks and more from a couple of charities that we support recently. And the question was raised of why charities spend their funds manufacturing things like stickers that we will never use. Why waste their money that could be spend on people in need? It was then further chewed over by bringing up the sheer volume of printing certain charities send to tell you to sponsor them when you already do.
So I thought this over for a while and decided that overall the intent of these small gifts and printouts is to remind people to keep donating. The problem is that the cost of the reminder is not necessary going to compare with the cost of return donations. And that people (like the person I was talking to) get a little upset over this perceived waste of money.
So is it a waste of money? In some cases, yes and some cases no. World Vision used to drive us mad with the huge envelopes of print outs we regularly got that all said the same thing. In fact, many a finger has been pointed at World Vision for its far too high ‘administration’ costs. This kind of perceived money wastage is in fact more likely to discourage people from donating because they don’t feel their money will be used on the people so much as it will be used on ink and paper. That is not to say that they are correct. World Vision has done many great things and does use the money to achieve these things, but they probably could cut down on their advertising costs.
Alternatively, the bookmarks we’ve received from the Stroke Foundation and the SPCA are a small reminder when reading to continue to support them. Does it work? I’m not entirely sure. Usually we become habituated to the stimuli around us, so for example in this case, I am so used to seeing the bookmark that it no longer registers or creates any sort of response from me. This is a huge challenge (that particularly static) advertising faces; how can it continue to provoke a response from us when we automatically register its presence but don’t truly process it?
So it’s not as simple as simply saying that charities advertising is or isn’t a waste of money, but more so that some charities are more aware of strategies to make the best use of advertising funds than some other charities.