Is the UNITED APPEAL too bigor big enough?
Next month Canadians will give more than ever before to community chests. Behind the efficient fund-raising machines there’ll be some nagging questions. Has charity grown too efficient and impersonal? How many individuals and firms give through fear and business pressure?
PETER C. NEWMAN
THIS OCTOBER, two hundred thousand determined volunteer canvassers expect to collect a million dollars a day for the annual appeals of Canada’s community chests and united funds. Despite the economic slowdown, the men in charge predict they’ll gather in twenty-seven million dollars — more than in any other single year.
Sometime early in November, weary campaign chairmen in the great majority of the participating towns and cities, will put down their coffee cups and rise to tell their equally weary helpers that their objectives have been reached or surpassed. This, they will say, is a further vindication of the community chest as the most efficient and satisfying form of fund-raising for charity ever devised. To a large extent, they’ll be right.
But in a small number of other communities, even wearier campaign chairmen will have to remind their workers that they’ve fallen short of their targets. And whether they speak their doubts aloud or not. many members of this group will be wondering whether, after all, a united appeal is the final solution to the complex problem of raising money for philanthropy.
Specifically, they’ll be asking themselves, as more and more individual Canadians have recently been asking:
■ Are the chests and funds stifling the voluntary impulse behind philanthropic giving?
■ While they do gather in a lot of money quickly, are they doing enough to demonstrate the extent of social needs and to educate Canadians about their obligations?
M Are charity payroll deduction plans (ostensibly voluntary) tending to become a form of employee blackmail?
■ And. is it a fact that a great deal of money is being raised through social pressure and the fear of reprisal in the upper echelons of big business?
During the past few weeks of investigating the sources, objectives and destinations of Canada’s charitable funds, I have discovered there are no flat or final answers to any of these questions. Many Canadians, particularly the business executives whose companies put up a large part of the money, feel that the neighborly warmth which once accompanied giving has not been spoiled by the frankly commercial approach of the chests and funds. But I also talked with many Canadians who are. troubled by their increasingly cynical attitude toward the spirit of giving to others more needy than themselves.
Those who favor the funds assert that they are an ideal money-raising method because they eliminate the
MACLEAN'S: CANADA’S NATIONAL MAGAZINE
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES SAY ABOUT UNITED APPEALS
“The alternatives—charity by taxation or multiple appeals—are destructive in the long run”
“The appeal has become vague...
represented in the public mind by football and talent contests”
“It’s a shakedown,” says a company president. “We give by compulsion”
“I found that the majority still prefer
the highly organized approach of the community chests”
wasteful overhead expenses of duplicated campaigns, allow more efficient planning and provide for a more equitable distribution of funds to agencies whose work has a low emotional appeal. The proponents of the federations point out that the eighty-five existing funds and chests have replaced more than thirteen hundred separate campaigns. Ottawa, for instance, which in 1951 was deluged with three hundred separate charity solicitations, now has only four major annual drives. “United fund raising and coordinated planning is the obviously sensible way of supporting and conducting voluntary welfare services,” says Carl Reinke, a Montreal executive who has for a long time been a leader in philanthropic work. “The alternatives— charity by taxation or multiple appeals—are simply destructive in the long run.”
Another school claims that there should be a return to individual campaigns for the various charity organizations, so that Canadians would be encouraged to give more generously for work they personally believe worthwhile. Those who fight the federation idea argue against the campaigns’ arbitrary distribution of proceeds and the inevitable loss of identity by individual charitable agencies. “Not even canvassers remember any longer who they are canvassing for,” charges Roy Cottier, a Toronto editor and part-time social worker. “The appeal has become vague and represented mainly in the public mind by promotional football matches and talent contests.”
Whatever its weaknesses, the federated idea does have an excellent record of accomplishment. Eighty-five united funds and chests last fall collected $25,504,451—94.7% of their objective. During that campaign, only eleven Canadian cities reached less than eighty percent of their goals. Before the united idea spread, the individual campaigns now federated managed to gather in only ten million dollars a year. Of Canada’s large population centres, all but Montreal and St. John’s have organized a majority of their charities into a chest or fund. (The distinction is mainly that the funds include national agencies like the Red Cross.)
But in their single-minded preoccupation with targets, chest and fund executives have sometimes resorted to unpopular and—at least to some potential donors—offensive money-gathering techniques. In Halifax, campaign committee men collected $720 from public-school children, before Board of Education Commissioner S. I. Robinson ordered them to leave with the warning: “If the canvassers are so hard up they have to beg from little children, we should give this country back to the Indians.” In Toronto, on the last day of an appeal which was lagging nearly a million dollars behind its goal, radio and television stations aimed an urgent message at the city’s barbers and hairdressers, urging them to stop what they were doing and ask their customers: “Have you given to the Appeal?”
At the same time, campaign chairman George Black issued a blunt ultimatum to businessmen who had not contributed their full share: “If I were running a business,” he warned, “and were approached by an organization as formidable, with members as influential as this one, 1 would think long and hard before I ran counter to their declared wishes.” He suggested that the attitude of the laggard executives was “a matter of bad business” and predicted that “they will become moral outcasts of this great metropolitan community, and their business will suffer.” The warning immediately produced contributions of an extra half a million dollars, but also raised loud protests. “These bludgeoning tactics are a far cry from Christianity or secular humanitarianism,” declared William Jenkins, an outspoken Unitarian minister. Black shot back: “I don’t know Mr. Jenkins, but has he ever tried to raise nine million dollars? How else could we raise the money?”
This kind of exchange has prompted many of the professionals most intimately concerned with the Canadian charities situation to reconsider the full implications of the united approach. “The trend toward federated financing of private welfare is very encouraging,” says Dr. R. G. Davis, executive director of the Canadian Welfare Council. “But there is a potential danger that the whole enterprise will become impersonal—very continued on page 66
Is the United Appeal too big?
Continued from page 14
“Corporations have become the barons of charity. Some insist their workers sign payroll pledges”
much like a feeling of taxation,” he concludes.
Most campaign executives insist that the federating of agencies has not diminished the traditional spirit of charity. “We have progressed from being our brothers’ keepers to our brothers’ helpers at the community level,” says Flurry Noton, chairman of this year’s Calgary Community Chest. Others stress that old-time charity may have brought a greater glow of satisfaction to the giver, but it imposed a sense of inferiority upon the recipient which the large organizations can help eliminate.
Because large-scale private philanthropy has been practically taxed out of existence, charitable receipts in Canada have become more and more dependent on the generous impulses of business corporations and the men who run them. Some companies give through a genuine old-fashioned feeling of charity toward their neighbors and a considered sense of public duty. Others give for “business” reasons. With most, the two motives are mixed in a proportion impossible to determine.
As the corporations have become the barons of charity, some executives have been insisting that their employees participate in community chest payroll deduction plans. James S. Duncan, chairman of the Ontario Hydro, last fall called into the commission’s assembly hall employees who refused to sign pledge cards. Lhey were addressed by executives who implied that they were bad citizens. Most of the holdouts signed up. One Calgary employer, disgusted with the low contributions in his plant, summoned his staff together for an explanation. When he was told that most of the employees had given at home, he refunded the home donation to each worker, then demanded his signature on a payroll pledge. During the hiring procedure at the Canadian Westinghouse plant in Hamilton, new men are asked to sign cards which enroll them in the community chest deductions plan, at the same time as they fill out applications for the usual pension, hospital-surgical and life-insurance schemes.
As the organization of charity becomes more and more systematic, the approach
to the giver is also changing. Those who run the united appeals have recognized that a multitude of psychological forces are involved in any charitable act. During a recent Toronto campaign for a home for unmarried mothers, for instance, women canvassing homes collected very little, but when men canvassers called on husbands in the office the donations were double the target. Conscience, social and business pressure battle each man's primitive inclination to concern himself only with himself. Canadian charity experts are currently studying a report by Dr. Ernest Dichter, the principal exponent in North America of motivational research, dealing with this problem.
"Giving and not giving." claims Dichter. "is somehow related to attitudes that originate in our childhood—toilet training. for instance.” Dichter explains that a child reasons: "If 1 give in to Mommy and I become trained and clean, then I’ve lost one very nice instrument of my power." Dichter maintains that this behavior applies to charitable giving, because many of us reason: "As long as I hold out. you’ll keep on wooing me. You’ll keep on being nice to me. The moment I give you the money, nobody cares about me any more. All I get from you is a tiny little plastic thing, and I never hear from you again until next year.”
To counter such reactions. Dichter recommends that charity appeals become much more brutal. One approach he suggests: "You don't deserve to be called a citizen, if you don't participate. If you don't give, you are a pig!"
It's doubtful whether Canadian fund raisers will ever adopt such an indelicate line, but last year the Toronto United Appeal came close when it addressed a
lull-page newspaper ad to non-contributors, asking: "What would your neighbors say if they knew? What if the secret were to leak out among your friends, at your place of worship? . . . Don't be an outsider. Don't carry that heavy secret around with you. that you're not as farsighted, responsible and generous as others . . . that you're not
really as good a citizen as your friends and neighbors.” The advertisement prompted some violent letters to the editor and a dozen nasty phone calls to campaign headquarters. But donations during the next forty-eight hours totaled $ 1.500.000—the largest amount of money ever collected by the city's United Appeal in that length of time.
As a result of the Dichter studies. Canadian charity campaign planners will in future use fewer posters of crippled children and needy families. "Such pictures." says Dichter, "have a very peculiar emotional effect.” According to his theory they create a subconscious feeling in the viewer that: “The moment 1 give to these people. I am somehow assuming responsibility for their difficulties in an irretrievable fashion." Dichter recommends campaign posters show instead "all the wonderful givers—groups of line upstanding people, feeling wonderful because they gave."
Very few of the nearly three million Canadians who annually give part of their earnings to community appeals realize the full extent of the organizational machinery behind the canvasser who solicits their contribution. The large drives are field-marshaled by a “campaign cabinet." composed of division chairmen (in charge of corporations. employees, special names, small businesses and residential), public-relations co-ordinators plus the permanent
"We'll just lay that aside for a moment . .
headquarters staff. Every division chairman commands half a dozen section leaders, who in turn set the objectives for their six team captains, each of whom herds a platoon of canvassers.
The "cabinet" sets quotas for each member of the chain at the start of the campaign. Because no one can attain his target unless the tier beneath him produces the requested amounts, there is considerable pressure from the top. Success or failure of a drive most directly depends on the response from the executives of the community's largest business firms and well-to-do residents whose donations are used to influence lesser givers. Specially recruited researchers make up data cards on each man. showing his past positions, spare-
time interests and any other relevant information which might give some hint of the best manner in which to approach him.
These pace setters are then contacted with great care by their social peers, picked because of personal or business friendships. The canvass is cordial but firm; there are few outright refusals. "It s a shakedown." one company president told me. "We give by compulsion." It's doubtful that many corporation heads feel this way-—but certainly some do. and most of them give anyway.
In determining their fund raising strategy. campaign chairmen try to deploy their manpower in the most effective way. In a recent million-dollar drive for the Jesuit-run Jean-de-Brebeuf College, Alan Maenaughton. MP for the Montreal constituency where the school is situated, was persuaded to join the campaign committee. Maenaughton, a prominent businessman who was then a leading member of the Commons Standing Committee on Banking, was picked to approach James Muir, president of the Royal Bank. Muir put his bank down for fifty thousand dollars. Maenaughton then approached Gordon Ball, the Bank of Montreal president, and gently reminded him id' the gift by his chief competitor. Ball equalled the donation exactly.
Probably Montreal's most generous philanthropist is J. W. McConnell, the retired Montreal Star publisher, lie revolutionized executive giving in Canada during the early Thirties, when he managed to get a twenty five-ihousand-dollar donation for a local charity from Sir Herbert Holt, a traditionally stingy giver. Holt had handed McConnell three cheques for smaller amounts. McConnell tore them up in his face and refused to lease Holt’s office until he was relue-
t'antly handed a cheque for the full sum.
As well as being continually asked for personal contributions, the presidents of many of Canada's large business firms are becoming increasingly concerned with the size and destination of corporate gifts to charity. A study of taxation statistics shows that out of their 1957 net faxable income of three billions Canadian companies donated thirty-two million dollars for charitable purposes. Under an amendment introduced in the last budget, corporations can deduct up to ten percent for charitable donations in computing their taxable income, it costs a company earning two million dollars a year only $113,()()() to hand out $200,000.
A survey of Canadian corporate charitable behavior carried out under the chairmanship of George Black claimed that of the 878 corporations studied, forty-three percent considered the worthiness of cause as their main reason for giving. Fourteen percent of the executives polled ranked duty to the community as their motive, while the balance listed such various reasons as tax advantages, public relations and personal pressure from the solicitor.
"When the person making the request is a good customer and when the pressure is bad enough, we give,” commented one board chairman. A company president expressing a more typical view said: ‘‘Our contributions are based on the nature of the appeal, in relation to what we think the company can afford at the time.”
A strong factor for charitable support often mentioned by businessmen is their aversion to having more and more socialwelfare activity taken over by the government. Following some criticism by shareholders of his brewing and business
empire’s generous charitable activities, E. P. Taylor once replied at an annual meeting of one of his companies: ‘"It's in the interest of industrial shareholders for corporations to increase their support of welfare and higher education, so that the balance of state support and influence may not become overpowering.”
Because they have their own charitable commitments at home, U. S. companies with Canadian subsidiaries have generally not been very free with their donations. In one recent building fund campaign. a university president personally canvassed six large U. S. companies operating in his province, but found that only one could or would contribute. A spectacular exception is the U. S.-control led Imperial Oil Company which last year gave away an estimated million-anda-half dollars through 525 grants ranging from fifty to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. One Imperial executive told me that most head-office vice-presidents spend nearly ten percent of their time considering charity appeals, or working actively on campaigns.
This kind of involvement can often cost a company more than its cash donation. "‘The contribution of the time of senior executives is a major sacrifice by the company which is thus deprived of their talent and experience,” says Carl Reinke. of the Du Pont Company of Canada. Du Pont receives about fifty requests a year for the loan of an executive, and complies with a third of them. “If a director of your company is interested in a particular drive, you have to supply somebody, or it's considered an affront.” says Charles Dalton, president of Carling Breweries. "We considered hiring a man just so we’d have somebody to loan out,” another company president admitted.
Canada’s advertising industry has become so worried about continually losing key personnel to charity campaigns, that the recently established Canadian Advertising Advisory Board has been given as one of its jobs the handling of these requests on a co-operative basis. Harry E. Foster, the owner of a Toronto advertising agency who has studied the problem, told a group of ad executives: “I’ve known cases in which an account shifted because another agency worked in close contact with it during a charitable campaign.”
The business executives lent to charity drives—the Toronto United Appeal now borrows fifty for up to five months a year—are often picked deliberately by their companies to test their organizing ¿nd sales ability. “I’ve seen men promoted in their companies, because they did such a good job in the campaign,” I was told by John Yerger, executive director of Toronto's United Appeal.
In Vancouver last fall, Charles Lamarche, of the International Woodworkers of America, became Canadian charities’ first loaned labor executive. He spent his two months’ hitch persuading some twelve thousand workers to join payroll deduction schemes. This system of subtracting small regular pay cuts instead of having to part with a sudden chunk of cash has significantly multiplied employee donations. Workers at Flalifax Shipyards Limited, for instance, used to give the Halifax Community Chest three hundred dollars. Under the payday deduction scheme introduced last year, they gave three thousand dollars. There is no legal obligation to maintain pledges, but defaults at most plants are running below one percent.
The scale for payroll giving suggested by community chests is fifteen minutes’ pay weekly for annual incomes below six thousand dollars a year. Executives are asked to contribute $134 out of a $10,000 salary; $2,500 on $50,000. Some managements carefully avoid pressuring employees to meet these standards. At Imperial Oil, for example, pledges are collected in sealed envelopes and seen by no company executive. Other firms simply pass around open lists, blandly exposing the extent of individual generosity. Kenneth LeM. Carter, senior Toronto partner of the chartered accounting firm of McDonald, Currie, reported: "I don't know what the personal giving is of my staff, but I certainly take a great deal of interest in their total. I think it’s fair game to turn the heat on them as a group.”
One Waterloo, Ont., plant helps boost employee giving by handing out chances on a company draw for each fifteen cents a week that a worker contributes to the local community chest. (The first prize is two weeks’ holidays.) The gimmick raised contributions in one year from one to six thousand dollars. A few employers have retaliated against staff refusals to participate in payroll deduction. When Local 43 officials of the Toronto Civic Employees Union asked for two days’ time off for three men to prepare a Christmas party for the members' children, the request was denied. In rejecting the application, one of the city councillors pointed out that the union had objected to being canvassed by the United Appeal last fall.
Most unions back the deduction schemes. “We like payroll giving because it takes off the pressure. It’s entirely in the hands of the employees. Management has nothing to say about it,” says Bob Russell, president of the Trades and Labor Council in Winnipeg, where more than a hundred firms are already participating and a hundred and thirty more
are expected to lie signed up this year.
Payroll deduction has caught on most spectacularly in the Toronto area. Nearly half of all companies employing thirty or more have joined the plan, boosting employee contributions by four hundred percent in the past two years. With annual collections now approaching nine million dollars, Toronto has the world’s ninth largest united fund. There is a permanent staff of fifty organizers plus the campaign-time army of thirty thousand volunteers. Collection costs have been slashed to six percent of the take,
partly through the introduction of an IBM pledge card processing system which allows five technicians to do the work of two hundred clerks.
Toronto's 1957 campaign dramatically demonstrated that under the United Appeal idea, charity no longer begins at home. The residential canvass, which once dominated charitable giving, has declined to only seven percent of the total. Some Canadian communities, Moose Jaw and Trail among others, have completely abandoned house-to-house collections, preferring to depend on the
more easily controlled payroll deduction plans and special names lists.
The alternative to the tightly federated appeal is illustrated by Montreal which has more individual charity appeals than any North American city except New York. Some measure of federation has been introduced through the uniting of ninety agencies into Protestant, Jewish. French Catholic and English Catholic groups, but they are able to collect only seven million dollars compared with Toronto’s nine, despite the larger population. “The public here
has become almost shockproof to need,” says Charles Young, the executive director of the Montreal Council of Social Agencies, a sort of welfare trade association. To add to the confusion, six hundred major and minor campaigns annually compete for philanthropic donation in the city, to finance everything from hospitals to dog cemeteries. On top of the full-scale campaigns, Montreal has 50 tag days. (Toronto now allows only six tag days. Trail, B.C., has federated its appeals so successfully that the collection boxes carried by Legionnaires on Poppy Day—the only tag day permitted -—have stickers informing united appeal contributors that they’re entitled to a free poppy.)
Montreal’s profusion of appeals has so blunted charitable instincts that the city's collection total has not increased since 1951. in spite of the intervening inflation and a doubling in the number of drives. "We feel the situation borders on the impossible,” says Young. "There has to be a very much greater consolidation of campaigns.”
The major holdouts in Canada against the local centralization of appeals are the Salvation Army and the Canadian Cancer Society, which have joined only a few of the smaller chests. The Red Cross allowed its branches to join federated drives in 1956, and now belongs to about thirty groups. The Salvation Army is determined to remain independent so that its collectors can spread the word of God during their rounds. The Cancer Society bluntly insists that it must stay out in order to educate contributors about danger signs of the disease.
Canadians haven't become aware of it yet, but at least forty new fund appeals will soon be moving here from the U. S. There will be campaigns to help finance research into a variety of diseases, including such unpronounceable but dreadful illnesses as myasthenia gravis (a progressive muscular weakness) and cysticfibrosis (the formation of fibrous tissues in the gall bladder). There's even a Foundation for the Common Cold currently investigating Canadian prospects. The appeals for these health campaigns will be added to the already operating cancer, heart, arthritis, deafness, blindness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, tuberculosis, epilepsy and poliomyelitis funds. These will be national. rather than local appeals. Some will join existing funds and chests at the community level; others will remain independent, like the Cancer Society.
This expected influx indicates the changing character of charity. As federal, provincial and municipal governments take over the basic welfare functions, the emphasis of private agencies is changing from direct relief for the destitute to preventing the conditions that cause misery. The Toronto United Appeal, for instance, lists emergency centres for transients in its lowest priority category, but classes as essential, character-building programs for children, and the promotion of intercultural understanding. Nearly half of the money collected by the Toronto fund still goes for relief, but George Barber, the budget committee chairman, predicts that within a decade only ten percent will be needed for the provision of basic necessities.
"Charity today means not just alleviation of want," says M. Wallace McCut cheon, the Toronto businessman who is past president of the Canadian Welfare Council. "It means the provision of the health and character - building services used by virtually the entire community, including those in moderate or comfortable circumstances.”
Probably the Canadian fund - raising
method which has best preserved the original spirit of charity is the colorful annual round of Les Guignoleurs, in rural Quebec at Christmas. Dating back to a custom popular during the French colonial regime, when brightly tunicked men collected money for the poor, members of the Quebec Commercial Travelers' Association still dress up. and ringing hand bells and waving rattles, gather money in big stockings for the underprivileged in thirty Quebec parishes.
But many of the biggest campaigns in Canada owe part of their success to the cold and experienced machinery of G. A. Brakeley & Co., a Montreal fund-raising firm. In its decade of Canadian operation the Brakeley firm has organized drives for the raising of four hundred million dollars in one hundred campaigns. These have been mostly for universities and hospitals, but they have also included the Toronto Symphony
Orchestra and the Shakespearean Festival Foundation at Stratford. "In a dynamic people-y business like fund raising." says Brakeley, "one cannot stand still bysettling for what has been done before. We are applying the art of institutional financing to fund raising."
In spite of such commercialization of philanthropy, 1 found during my survey that the majority of Canadians—particularly those able to give the most—still prefer the highly organized approach of the united funds and community chests. But I also discovered that an increasing number of Canadians long for the return of more spontaneous charity methods. One discouraged but community - conscious Toronto executive summed up the feelings of the latter group when he told me: "I get much more satisfaction out ol giving a dime to a panhandler, than seeing $10.58 knocked off my pay cheque for charity each month."