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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marketing Charity

I just wanted to write about something, that's not really highlighted in any newspaper or magazine. However, I think most of us know about it, but we don't really talk about it. No, it's not really a controversial issue like racial tensions and whatnot, but a simple observation I find worth sharing.

The day before I came back to UTP, I was in a Starbucks at Borders, using the internet to do some work and some leisure surfing. I was quietly doing my thing as was everyone else there, and then a young man approached me. In a grey polo shirt and slacks, he began to explain to me the product he was selling. As the title tells, he was selling charity.

He was explaining to me that that a GLO (Government linked organisation)was collecting funds for orphans (if I'm not mistaken, can't really recall now) throughout the entire nation. Apparently, this organisation is stationed all around Malaysia and provides relief funding for these kind of children that need help. It also included funds for helping certain children with cancer treatment and the like.

The young man continued to explain and I asked to look into this green folder he was carrying, scanning through the documents that every other person brings to prove their charity is not a scam. The first page as expected is a government letter, approving the charity collection for a limited time period. Throughout the other pages are documents outlining the organisastion's scope of work.

I was convinced and fair enough, I decided to give since I hadn't given to any charity in a long while. I paid for this little car sticker that I didn't like which simply acts as my receipt as there's a little number at the bottom right corner.

What I was thinking shortly after though, is how fiercely NGOs have to fight for funds nowadays. How many of you want to give to every single charity in Malaysia? You could give to organisations fighting HIV, cancer, breast cancer, orphanages, spastic children, disaster relief funds and so on and so forth. All of us are not strangers to fund raising events, dinners, runs , direct selling, special garage sales and the like. I think now, there's a much more direct approach by NGOs or charitable organisations to obtain cash.

Fund raising events are not a reliable source and is only a short term solution to a perhaps dire need of funds. As it is such events are hard to plan and carry out. Some may even think that more money is spent sponsoring such events compared to the money received in the end.

I noticed something about my little ordeal that coincides perfectly with certain marketing principles. The young man, who is a volunteer and not a full time worker, never talked about price until it was time to close the sale. The next thing was, the amount you have to give to charity is now FIXED. If you want to give to such organisations, they no longer accept much of the petty charity such as RM 1 and so forth. This may not be applicable to all cases, but I think it will be soon, it only makes sense as a business strategy.

Also, another thing is that the volunteer had very sufficient documentation to sell his 'case'. Previously, people simply come to you with their money collection license. In the book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, one emphasised factor is selling on facts, presenting actual facts to your customer before actually presenting the product to them. It makes people more emotionally inclined to buy. This concept applies perfectly to charity, where organisations market the sad truth that hopefully will make us inclined to give/buy.

As has been said somewhere before, charitable organisations are still organisations. They need resources to survive, and can no longer rely on what they may deem 'petty' donations. The pressure is on them now to get funds quick as inflation keeps rising with a global economic downturn. So, as an organisation, they need to think like a business organisation, if they intend to keep running. It will be interesting to see in the future, how charities and other NGOs will begin to market themselves. Fixed prices for charity donations/purchases I believe, are just a sign that we will see charities much more as business organisations in a very near future.

How good will they be at that? It simply remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's just.... one step too far

I thought I wouldn't blog about this, I didn't want to, but reading this news just makes my mind go, "Oh my goodness, how smart people must be" in an extremely sarcastic tone.

I logged into my hotmail account, and as usual a Windows Live window will appear. Under the news headlines, "Malaysian Groups boycott Coke". You can read about it here. I just couldn't believe it, not that people did it, but because how stupid it is.

I think you really have to think logically. Boycotting Coke, even if the entire world did it (which will never happen until the UN labels it toxic) is not going to make Israel stop attacking the Gaza strip. This reminds me so much of the time when a chain mail was sent to me about boycotting Petronas to lower the price of oil in Malaysia, I tell you the truth, I sent a mail right back to all the recipients hitting hard the person who started the mail.

I'm not saying people should do nothing to make an effort for peace. Honestly though, you have to be real and not WISHY WASHY. You know, The Star a few days ago was very happy to report that pressure from Malaysia had caused the UN to sit down to form a new resolution. I can tell you right now, that has nothing to do with boycotting Coke, and neither has that anything to do with a Malaysian burning American flags.

As far as petitions go, honestly I don't know, maybe they have some effect, but I don't really think so. I received a petition from several university students asking fellow students to join in a petition to ask the EU to boycott Israeli goods.

Obviously the objective is this, put a trade embargo, and they'll be forced to STOP attacking. Come on, be smarter, let me ask you a practical question. Is the European Union going to stop trade with Israel because a country not even in its group told them to? To add to that, it's not a government asking them (like EU will automatically obey Malaysian diplomatic requests anyway), it's CIVILIANS asking.

History should teach you, that in any military saga, wars and whatnot, civilians have no authority, hence no power in stopping a war. If you support Palestine or Israel fine, go ahead, you have the free will to choose sides, but stop wasting energy doing something that does't create value for the situation. Public opinion only goes so far. It's most powerful in an election, never a war.

Go ahead and make donations, support the people who are in need. Help refugees. Do your part. Remember your place, know your role, and let the people who have the authority and power to make actual impact on the current situation do it. Do not waste your time doing something that you can't do simply because you feel like it. Just be real and make an impact by saving lives. Being angry doesn't do anything good for peace.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Seven Sweet Surrender Lineup of 2009

The confirmed lineup for Seven Sweet Surrender that will play at Euphonious 2009

Christon (replacing Richard): Lead vocals, rhythm guitar (acoustic)
Javier: Rhythm guitar (electric)
Witton: Lead guitar (electric)
Augustine: Bass guitar
Kuo Chun: Violin

New additions

Eddy (replacing Christon): Drums
Vern (replacing Mei Le): Keyboard

This is the third time Seven Sweet Surrender is coming together and I'm always glad when we have done so. Again, it's the third time that the lineup has changed. I know that isn't a very healthy habit for a young band but we've been faced with difficulty keeping people together.

Sometimes, having a new drummer in particular is a big challenge, but I think I look forward to it. The best thing to do is to have belief in your members and they will start to gain confidence and play to the best of their ability.

It's always a challenge to be able to play well as a band and impact/entertain the watching crowd who are simply curious to see what the new bands are all about. Seven Sweet Surrender has improved a whole lot as a band last year and I've always believed that these people could do even better. So coming into the new year, as I am very very excited at the prospect of playing with them this year, we're looking forward to play songs that people will listen to and make them say two things.

One: Hmm, that band's not bad, they're pretty good. They can play some good music.
Two: That song... they played.. it's got something meaningful to it, makes me think a bit.

I think the second thing is very hard. I'm not sure how many bands within my university really want to do that but that's what I want to do with Seven Sweet Surrender. The songs I've picked for Seven Sweet Surrender to play are very specific and are what I think we really want to say as people to the rest around us.

We aren't looking to be outspoken, but to share something good with everybody and inspire each other. It's a long shot from where I stand, but something I really believe we can really do, so that's what I'm looking forward to right now as I go back to UTP very soon.

Vaio IRO

Just received an e-mail, it's a Sony thing. They've got this competition going on, prizes seem pretty good, haha! I've joined, if you want to as well, go ahead and check this out!