Changing DonateNZ; who decides

September 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

One of the most frustrating things that I am finding with seeking funding, is that it seems in order for us to get it, we have to change what we are. Who are they to tell us we should be doing things differently? I know, they are the strings to the proverbial purse and we want something from them, but to what degree should we consider changing in order to satisfy them? Given the countless awards, TV coverage, successes and recognition we have achieved since we began; we must be doing something right, I would hope we’re doing a lot right!

Comments from multiple funders we have spoken to reflect the fact that they don’t believe funding our website development costs to be as needy a cause as assisting other charities to provide their services. I was warned by Volunteering Auckland’s Cheryll Martin about this fact before we started applying to funding organizations; that I will find it ten times as hard to find funding as opposed to any other organisation; as we are both essentially support organisations to the charity sector, as opposed to being on the front lines.

Consider this… A funder has applications for funds in front of them, both totaling $30K:

  • One from DonateNZ to fund website development to fix the current problems and build areas specifically requested by its users OR
  • Fund 10 sick kids wishes to go to Disneyland

Which would you choose? Would the tug of your heartstrings win?

I’m not arguing against sending sick kids to Disneyland, or knocking any of the valuable causes who we compete with for funding, as they are the very reason I began the website; to help them. However, I am pointing at the differences in the long term benefit gained from the funds. After that trip is over, the funds are gone. If we were to receive the funds, by making our service perform properly (which I am sorry to say, is not, presently) the DonateNZ site could be filling hundreds of Wishes for charities weekly. This would relieve the pressure on the community funding sector, as well as the charity themselves.

We’ve been told by funders, that if we were to run some public event or something more “forwards facing” they would consider us more seriously. We’ve considered this. However it does not fit with our core vision and goals which will take the site to be where it needs to be. Do you think we should change who we are to fit into their criteria? I certainly don’t. Could this be a classic case of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face? Maybe. I know one thing for certain, in order for this site to be a success we need to base our decisions on assessing solid feedback from members, successes and market demand; not from what a handful of people who have money who want us to fit through their hoops.

I’ve been told by funders, that we appear too professional and “not needy enough” and perhaps that is true. It is tough however, as I don’t think we will ever seem needy enough; as it’s the thousands of organisations we represent (and the people they serve) who are. By giving them a voice, via our website, we can make a brighter future for them by allowing their community to see who they are and how they can help. Our role is a distinctly strategic move to provide a service to support the charitable sector and make it more self sufficient, as well as making every New Zealander an active participant in those organisation’s future. Think you know better, or want to help or just comment? Do share 🙂

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