I was thinking about motivation of people who want to do good. About how to give them such opportunities. About how to reach out to them. Connect them. Bring meaning to their actions. It inevitably brought me to another topic I heard ages ago in another TED talk by Dan Pallotta https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong. He was right then in many aspects. 8 years later sadly nothing has changed. In addition I wonder how much is too much.

I have education in economics and finance. I have worked for 20 years in for profit organization. Also had my own small company for a while. I have been participating in different volunteer activities and charity events for 18 years or so. We have such a strong opinions how charity organization and volunteer work should be organized. I admit – I have very strong opinions myself. But I am in place where I have to review my views. How much non profit organization should be using to develop their work? And when it is too much?

Cost of non profit organization

In Finland it is legally allowed to use up to 70% from charity organization income to cover costs not associated with their aim. Meaning as little as 30% should be invested in the cause of the organization. When I found this out, I stopped giving any money to any charity organizations. 30/70 split was outrages in my opinion. I will keep this opinion and not change it.

When I was invited to be part of Lions Club Stamina founders we were introduced the rules of money handling in Lions Club worldwide. Any Lions Club has two bank accounts. Money paid to charity bank account should be 100% used for charity only. In Lions Club Stamina we have been very strict on following this rule. We have donated amounts to charity from this account. Money to charity bank account comes from donations from volunteers and members.
We have another so called ”administrative” bank account which is used for all our expenses. Money to this account comes from LC Stamina member yearly fees. We have so far we have kept our expenses low, so we have been able to manage. But we have no budget for growth…
PS: you can read more about Lions Club global rating on Charity Navigator page: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4005

How much is too much?

So this week I have been putting my head around on what would be best way to move forward. And what is the limit? How much of money spent on ”marketing” and ”expenses”? 30/70 definitely does not work for me. But what about 70/30? If maximum of 30% of charity money we would use to develop our work? Would that be too much?

Why I even bother thinking about this? As members we do pay to our administrative account yearly fee. We have to pay for this web domain, normal bank fees, MobilePay fees, legal fees, and similar. And I also know that there is not much free funds in our account after all mandatory expenses. So I paid for our logo design minimal fee. I have vision of our for web page design, so web design support I paid again from my own pocket.
But I want to also reach people – those who want to help. I want people who are willing to help and want to support young people activities, know about us and be able to reach us. And any messaging costs. Facebook ads – costs. Any add on media – costs. Any communication channel – requires specialists, channel and time – it all costs.
The same applies when I think how to reach people who would need our help. How to reach them? How to let them know? Sadly, in this world, it all costs. There is no free lunch.
One thing that most people probably do not know: most organizations are being contacted almost on daily bases with request to support charity. So they do support… those who have best visibility. They use charity for marketing. Non visible, not know organizations – they are of no interest for profit making. So to be interesting for cooperation, charity must be visible.
I also think that people who do good, get their reward for doing good. But also they need some recognition. After all members go to work, study, raise family, have private life, and still find time to do good. Sometimes ”thank you” is enough. But if I want expert of communications, or expert of sports, or any other specialist to find continuously time – there must be a carrot, no matter how small.

Lions Club Stamina is not a marketing agency. We are not huge organization with major over head costs. I do not want us to be. But there must be part of money to develop and grow our organization, so we can help more people.

What is the right way?

I cannot think about what are our mandatory and inevitable costs without thinking about what is the best way. I was thinking of few ways.

Shall it be made very transparent on how each euro is spent? Put it on our web page? All that comes in and all that is paid out? For every cent to be accountable for? Would such level of transparency help people to trust us with their money and heart?
Or shall we give people option to decide? Pay to support charity of their choice – by paying to charity account. Donate to support organization – by paying to administrative account. I do believe that people are good and want to help. And some want to help directly aim, and some will want to help us to do more good.

This also brought me down to indirectly linked question. We have a yearly member fee. But would it help members and others to pay more if they could pay monthly, not yearly? Isn’t it easier to pay 10EUR monthly than 100EUR yearly? Or is it just me here?

Transparency and trust is everything

I am all in for transparency. I stopped paying to my earlier charities when I learned that up to 70% of my money goes to unknown expenses. In Lions Club I want members and any person donating to know exactly how money is used. There must be a clear cut and transparency. We are here in the club to support our aim: we want to support new people to healthy and active lifestyle. And we do that by moving. Move body and hearts!
Over time I have learned to trust some organizations and have started paying monthly some minor fees to them. When I started trusting them and that they use most of my money for the cause. I do not mind if 30% or so goes to organizing and marketing the activity….

I will reach out to members in LC Stamina club and ask what do they think. I think only open, transparent and properly balanced management of funds will lead to LC Stamina growth … so we can help more people, and we can give more people to help us to help others. Just need to find balance – how much is too much…

Have a great week ahead!
Kristine Savolainen



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