Why Not Professional Fundraisers?

Why does ICSF do all of its own fundraising and not use professional fundraisers? When I first initiated ICSF in 2005 and was looking for money to fund our cleft palate missions, someone suggested using professional fundraisers. I then did some research and discovered that most, if not all, full-time charities use professional fundraisers—so why not ICSF? I furthermore learned that professional fundraisers are free! We would not pay a dime to them for what they do. As I gained information, however, I found out what the catch is, and it’s a big one.

Reigna before surgery

ICSF’s donors give to help children like Reigna (above), understanding that more than 96 percent of the money goes directly to fund her and other children’s surgeries and not to high overhead costs.

First, professional fundraisers would use ICSF’s name through the mail and over the phone, television, or Internet and solicit donations as if they were us. Here is the catch: When the funds come in, the fundraisers would hand over only a small portion (well under half ) of the collected donations to ICSF. They would keep the majority, upwards of 70 percent or more, for their “professional fee.”

But really what is so bad about this? All we would do is make a call to the fundraisers whereupon they would take over and we would pay nothing. We would receive periodic checks from the fundraisers with the understanding that they would keep most of the funds collected. It would be a good deal for everyone—wouldn’t it? Yes, everyone—except the donors.

Reigna after surgery

Reigna two years after surgery. Reigna’s mother thinks she was blessed to find ICSF after seeing her daughter’s surgical results—all thanks to ICSF’s donors.

Imagine receiving a mailing or a call or seeing an Internet ad by a professional fundraiser in behalf of ICSF. The fundraiser would use our uniqueness— the time and effort we give to each patient, our belief in follow-up and aftercare, and our desire to teach local professionals—to convince good hearted people to donate and support our cause. But these good hearted donors would never be told that the vast majority of their dollars would not make it to the kids they wanted to help. This is when I decided that professional fundraising is NOT for ICSF. Our donors give to us because they feel that we are unique in the way we care for poor Third World kids. If our donors give to us because we are unique, that makes them unique. It would be unfair to let them give, thinking they are giving to a child in need, when actually they are giving primarily to a fundraising corporation for salaries and profit.

Imagine that you had donated to ICSF’s cause, thinking that you had supported a surgery for a patient like Reigna when you had actually helped buy a new car for a professional fundraiser.

I think you will agree that ICSF does it the right way by making direct petitions to our donors and, in so doing, ensuring that our supporters’ donations go directly to the children, like Reigna. She is worth it—and you, our supporters, are worth it. We will keep ICSF the way it is—a unique organization with unique goals and unique supporters. “Everyone”—including our supporters—”was born to smile.”

Dr. Geoff Williams
President, ICSF
P.O. Box 4594
Boise, Idaho 83711-4594
(208) 375-8132

Design by Melissa Ventura, Development by Drew Bertola and Walter Martin.