I know many not-for-profit folks have heard this before, but I think it is time for a reminder to funders. Please stop encouraging online competitions between charities on social media!

I’m talking about the competitions where funders encourage charities to compete against each other to win a donation/prize? Last man standing wins sort of thing. Many funders have good intentions, but this just feels demeaning and added work for the charities. There are different versions of these charity popularity games, like the charity that gets the most votes/likes on social, or who shares the funder/businesses post the most. That sort of thing.

At the end there is ‘a winner’ and one or more loser charities who have wasted a bunch of time. I guess there is the benefit of the awareness of charities in the posts, but it doesn’t feel right. Most people who work at charities are extremely busy trying to focus on their missions and the people they serve. These games create pressure to ‘win’. On top of that funders sometimes don’t even ask the charities when they ‘enter’ them into these PBG’s (popularity-based grants) and it puts the charity in an awkward position to participate. Many fear snubbing the funder, even though they don’t want to be a contestant. If you don’t play along it can also create optics that your charity isn’t popular.

If a funder has money to help charities it would be lovely if they simply gifted the funds to the NPO (s) they support. If they want to create awareness about favoured charities, they could help by sharing information about the charities they feel are doing good work. NPO’s should be collaborating, not competing. Don’t be afraid to let well-meaning funders know how they can really help. Here’s an excellent article from Vu Le who wrote about why these popularity-based grants are harmful.

Popularity-based grants are irritating, harmful, and need to end

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