Thursday, December 14

Big splash across the pond

About a month ago, a website called Intelligent Giving ran an article warning potential donors away from Children in Need just two days before its annual telethon on BBC. They claimed it was "a lazy and inefficient way of giving", largely because the charity is a grant-giver. In other words, it passes on donors' money to other charities which means donors lose control of where their money goes and pay a double set admin costs.

Given the recent whirlwind surrounding the Toronto Star's hit job on MADD, I thought it would be interesting to look at the fallout from this publicity splash.

By November 29th (two weeks after the story broke), the Guardian ran an article titled, "Pudsey's worst nightmare" in a reference to the stuffed bear Children in Need uses as their mascot. The paper describes Intelligent Giving as a self-appointed watchdog.

Marketing itself as a website run by donors for donors, Intelligent Giving was launched in October by two former journalists. It ranks the effectiveness of charities by analysing their financial reports and giving them percentage scores for criteria such as transparency and administration costs.

However, the Guardian article also raised questions about the methodology used for Intelligent Giving's ranking system. Peter Heywood, who launched Intelligent Giving in October 2006 with his own financial backing, fired back with a response on his blog.

After two weeks of national media coverage in the UK, it appears that BOTH sides won. The Intelligent Giving site claimed to be receiving 10,000 hits a day and clearly got the publicity it was looking for. However, Children in Need also pulled in a pulled in a record £18.3m on the night of the appeal.

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