Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Spending £7000 to raise £3000: is it moral?

7 December, 2009 - 16:12 -- John Burton

Third Sector is the trade magazine for charities, and I read it every week. Not from cover to cover of course, much of it is irrelevant to the WLT. But there is always something of value.

This week I read of an animal welfare charity Spana (I think it used to be the Society for Protection of Animals in North Africa -- but changed to simply Spana). Their highly emotive campaign in newspapers recently apparently cost £7150, and raised around £3000. The charity justified this by claiming it recruited 105 new donors, and they expected that they "will recoup the full cost in lifetime value".

This seems to be a common philosophy in charities -- and one with which I certainly disagree. And I wonder how many of our supporters would want to think that for every £25 they gave us, it had cost us £50 to raise it, but that we were quite happy with that, because some of them would carry on donating and over the next 20 years make up for such a loss?

I don't think many would be very happy at all. But your comments would be welcome -- do you agree or disagree?

Whatever anyone writes, it is not a route we will be going down. Our aim is always to raise as much as possible for as small an expenditure as possible. To help keep fundraising costs down we rely on our supporters spreading the word. Please keep up the good work!


Submitted by Anonymous on


Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi John,
I go for the simple answer.
Isn’t that reasoning really all just civil service type white wash because you cannot be seen to fail, keep it in a positive light. They feel they cannot just say “we tried this and it did not work very well this time”. People (who probably don’t do anything) are quick to criticize. Err not including you here.

Submitted by John Burton on

You may be right — civil service whitewash. But it happens too often, and I have heard too many times that charities do it for 'list building'. I am amazed at how many 'junk mail shots' I get from even, what I consider, reputable conservation charities. We have worked on the basis of not sending unsolicited mail, and only ever making emotive appeals, when there really is a need. Like now, there relly is a crisis in the Chaco, and we really do need to support our local partners. But we still would not consider a mass mail out to people who have never indicated they want to support the WLT. Perhaps that is why, despite the recession, the WLT has continued to increase its income.

Submitted by Linda Yu on

It probably isn't right but you need to spend money to get something in return and even though you spent £7000, and only raised £3000, during the process, people may have recognised and acknowledged your work but not contributed or donated any funds. We're currently in a recession but it doesn't mean that we have stopped donating altogether. At least you're out there and doing your bit. I'm sure you've raised awareness and people will remember and donate when they have more money. Take care and keep up the good work. Linda at

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