The Sacramento Region Community Foundation released the results of its half-million-dollar research study about charitable giving in the four-county area yesterday, as reported in the Sacramento Bee. Our region was compared with San Jose, Riverside, Kansas City and Indianapolis. (Full report will be made available at a future date.)
Among the nuggets that came out of the research were several about the reasons people state for NOT giving charitably: high administrative costs (76%)… and “not sure what charities did with their last gift” (51%).
Another that caught my eye: While 91% of households surveyed agreed that it’s important to give locally, only 63% of donations were made to local organizations.
I don’t believe that Sacramentans are less empathetic about causes that ask for support. Nor am I convinced that the problem is a lack of habit when it comes to charitable giving and involvement. Active 20-30 and Junior League, just for two examples, were virtual engines of charitable leadership for a very long time.
I wonder if Sacramento’s charities behave too much like small businesses that are trying to survive by cutting expenses to the bone, which includes funds for marketing. I see billboards from national organizations asking for gifts; one of them doesn’t even spend collected funds locally – but its marketing is highly effective.
Sacramento’s philanthropies have to find efficient ways to get their messages out, and they have to have effective messages. It’s inexcusable that people would stop giving because they don’t know how their money was spent.
So while the gist of the article may be “Step up, Sacramento,” my takeaway is this: “Step up, charitable organizations.” We all have to do a better job of giving people a compelling reason to care, and enough love to keep them giving.
We just don’t the celebrity star-power to raise money the way they do in Manhattan, or the corporations that can write big ticket checks.