Thursday, 20 May 2010

Trekking for Charity - a scam?

We all get so much annoying spam in the Inbox. Now, I'm currently more than happy with my downstairs department, I've never bought an Australian lottery ticket so could never possibly have won their lotto and I'm certainly not succumbing to the temptation of injecting $36,000,000,000 into my beer fund on behalf of Dr Gaius Obaseki - a Nigerian air to the thrown who is eager to exit his country for fear of death (he has someone knocking at the door as he's typing the email to me). Anyway within my spam I recently received one that caught my eye, one that offered me a charity trek through Nepal.

The deal was I paid a deposit of £350, so long as I obtained a sponsorship fee of £3000. This instantly struck me as being a bit whiffy of rather pungent and rather old sardines. How on earth could flights, all internal travel, all accommodation, all meals on the trekking days, water, refreshments, guides, a doctor and medical support be covered for a 10 day trip for this measly pittance of a sum. Well the truth of the matter is that they obviously cannot. The sponsorship that you raise is clearly used to cover the cost of the holiday.

Now I had heard of this with regard to skydives but not trekking. With this in mind I went for a surf on the crest of t'internet and found a trek up Kilimanjaro under the same guise with Marie Curie. This insisted that you paid £350 by means of a deposit then raise a minimum of £3750 for the charity.

What amount of this actually goes to the charity I think is any ones guess. These Treks for Charity are obviously a way to entice would be trekkers who are unable to undertake such "Once in a Lifetime" opportunities without financial assistance from sponsors. This therefore means that a substantial amount of the sponsorship fund is not going to the intended charity but is in fact going to the trekking companies themselves.

Personally I don't know how people get away with this as you're not sponsoring them to Trek Kilimanjaro, you're in fact paying for them to Trek Kilimanjaro and donating a mere fraction of your sponsorship to the designated charity. I feel this is a way for companies to get business by telling the trekkers they can trek this or trek that for a paltry few pounds under the guise that it's for charity when really it's for the trekking company with a fractional and notional contribution going to the charity itself.

Superb marketing ploy from the trekking company as it broadens their target market from all the people who want to Trek Kilimanjaro and pay for it TO ALSO INCLUDE all the people that want to Trek Kilimanjaro without paying for it. I may be being possibly a touch cynical here but it may be a preference for the trekking companies to take the sponsorship guests as their price does not have to be competitive because the trekker isn't in fact paying for the pleasure so could in fact could be at an inflated rate (no proof on that, just a mere possibility). In fact the charities/companies running these operations advise the participants that should they be asked how much of the minimum sponsorship goes to the charity to try to be vague and avoid answering the question.

I actually got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this (can't you tell) and trawled further through t'internet. I came across Skydives for charity. This has to be the biggest scam going. For example with skyline parachuting you pay nothing, that's right, nothing! You raise £360 (at least, I can't see it being much more than that as once the punter has hit that figure they get their free skydive), and there you go you get your free skydive. But what exorbitant fee to the skydive company charge to the charity for the pleasure, I doubt this will be competitive as it doesn't need to be, why? Because the person paying for it isn't paying for it. To boot for every £1 that is raised by Skydiving operations for charity, it costs the NHS £13.75 in hospital fees - I'm digressing a touch.

It may possibly appear that I am being stingy by not giving to charity, quite the contrary I donate to a well known charity each month by means of direct debit and support them whole heartedly. This is the best way I feel I can support that charity. It is pretty galling though still that these charities are supposed to be there for the support and development of technologies to assist those in need. With the boss on £200,000 a year? Money well spent? Well, possibly so actually. It is a fortune of an amount of cash but ultimately it's all comparable, if you paid him/her half that do you get the same productivity out of them - I doubt it. In effect as frustrating as it may be (as you don't want the cash going in the bosses pockets, you want it being effective on the front line), it is actually well spent.

In conclusion, if I am asked by someone to sponsor them on the basis that they need to reach a minimum sponsorship fee to enable them to partake in the trek, I would politely decline and suggest that if they do complete the goal then I will donate a specific fee directly to the charity itself. Should I undertake a challenge myself for charity, all the cash I earned (apart from the 7% slice or therabouts that Justgiving take) would go to the charity and not towards my holiday fund.

Apologies for the rant, I just think it's being a touch opportunistic from a commercial point of view, it's not very fair for the person sponsoring and paying the money to think that upon the success of the challenge £10 will go to cancer research when in fact it will go to a Kilimanjaro Trekking company of some description with a fraction of that reaching those it was intended for.


Andrew Watts said...

I completely agree. I have just had a link sent to me from a friend to sponsor her and after taking a look at the tour company she's using, she has to raise a minimum of £3600. £2400 of that is towards flights. Shocking! so people are effectively paying for her to holiday to Tanzania. I find this disgusting. I'd rather donate directly.

CF Rich said...

Thanks for your comment Andrew. How much would a competitive alternative be bought through someone other than the operator providing the opportunity for charity - probably far less. Firstly it appears that all the prices are hugely inflated but most importantly I would never expect other people to pay for me for an experience of a lifetime under the guise of it being for charity.

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