Cancer Research UK is currently trialling a beta version of a project which lets the public decide how their funding is spent. Nice idea, and I am in no doubt that this model would be extremely popular with the public were it to be adopted widely by charities. But at what cost?
As charities know all too well; we need to pay the bills, hire the right staff, cover overheads, and spend money in order to raise money. All of this requires a significant amount of unrestricted funding. It’s clearly not prudent to allocate every supporters’ donation to a specific project or area of work of their choice – if suddenly the lights went out and staff quit as no one wanted to pay for the rather un-sexy ‘administration costs’ of running it.
A few quick taps through MyProjects reveal that funding for a mobile unit is not as popular, for example, as pancreatic cancer which is being heavily supported (in the contexts of their assigned targets).
But, as fundraiser Conor Byrne points out, could this model run happily alongside individual giving and more sustainable funding from corporate, events and statutory funding? I like Conor’s idea of “minor gifts”; major gifts for the smaller donor!
I think Cancer Research UK is being brave and forward-thinking with this new model of fundraising, but I also think that it could only be a well-funded and large charity that could afford to try this out. There could also be an element akin to microvolunteering (and indeed giving one-off to national ‘telethons’ like Comic Relief or Children in Need) whereby donors may choose to ‘do their bit’ for a project close to their heart, but not be sufficiently persuaded to give regularly through direct debit or payroll giving; which supports the sustainability of running a charity bigger than the sum of individual projects.
I would be interested to see the back-end funding streams of the crowdsourced projects too.
However, I do think Cancer Research UK should be applauded for trialling this template of giving. Reminds me of this witty Dan and Dan sketch [Youtube link], whereby erm Dan wants to ensure his tax is spent exactly how he sees fit by the Government…
What do you think ? Brave new model or unsustainable gimmick?