In non-profit services for victims, Mothers Against Drug Driving has always been something of a bully on the block. I am not surprised by the allegations made in last week’s Toronto Star that MADD misreported, and therefore misrepresented its fundraising practices. The org has always played it a little too fast and lose for my tastes, always hiding behind the caveat; “well, do you want another drunk behind the wheel or don’t you?”
At issue here is the definition of its contact with the public. The Toronto Star and Feds say telephone calls and mailings are expressly for the purpose of raising money for the non profit. MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie argues that these contacts are also “information exchanges” ; opportunities where fundraisers not only ask for donations, but also inform citizens about public safety issues.
No one in their right mind would buy that argument. Ask anyone who has been contacted by a telemarketer, and I don’t care if they are employed by MADD, a police association, Statscan, or your local long distance provider – they are all equally aggressive with one thing on their minds; to keep you on the phone long enough to get your business or get into your wallet. When was the last time you had a telemarketer lay out their mission in anything that didn’t sound like a sales-pitch?
If MADD includes the professional fundraising services correctly on their books, their administration costs balloon to roughly 84% of their operating budget. Typical admin costs for non-profits run at about 25%. Anything above that is serious cause for eyebrow raising. Canadians should be MADD alright. This is a slap-in-the-face to all other victim non-profits who fulfill their public obligations, in spite of the tedium of keeping the books “according to GAAP”. With their power and influence MADD should have demonstrated better leadership. Instead they may have inadvertently damaged the reputations of all charities in Canada that work so hard for the benefit of public welfare.