Saturday, June 27, 2015

When Setting Fundraising Goals, are You Thinking about the Precariat?

Are you a member of the precariat?

If not, you likely know someone who is.

The precariat is a new word (to me, at least) that describes the millions of Canadians who are feeling economically precarious about life these days.

These are people who are walking an economic tightrope, who fear for their financial security. 

They are students, wondering if their university educations will actually land them jobs.

They are factory workers, wondering if their jobs will be out-sourced and off-shored to places where people work for much cheaper wages.

They are seniors, wondering if they will have enough money to enjoy their “golden years.”

They are freelancers—writers, designers, artists and more.

They are part-time workers, trying to make a living out of two or three different minimum wage jobs—since part time work (without benefits) is all they can get.

They are professionals who see rapid advances in technology threatening their employment, or who are only able to get contract work.

As Guy Standing, a professor of economics and development studies at the University of London and author of The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011), put it:

“There is a new class whose voice will soon be at the centre of Canadian life. It is the precariat, the growing mass of Canadians who are in precarious work, precarious housing and hold precarious citizenship: the perpetual part-timers, the minimum-wagers, the temporary foreign workers, the grey-market domestics paid in cash, the young Canadians who will never have secure employment, the techno-impoverished whose piecemeal work has no office and no end, the seniors who struggle with dwindling benefits, the indigenous people who are kept outside, the single mothers without support, the cash labourers who have no savings, the generation for whom a pension and a retirement is neither available nor desired.

The precariat, says Standing, may account for 40 percent of the adult population in Canada. In some countries, it is more; it is growing everywhere.

Why mention this in a blog about marketing and communications for non-profits? Because when non-profits set fundraising goals, they need to keep in mind the growing number of people who live in a state of precarity. 

Chances are they will tend not to give much to charity, if anything at all.

And who can blame them? If you aren’t sure you’ll have enough money at the end of the month, or for a house or car or retirement, one easy place to cut back is on charitable giving.

Even many boomers are feeling the effects of precarity. 

This is a group that was supposed to be a fundraiser's dream as they retired. But may of them feel precarious, too. 

This includes those who have loaned money to their precarious kids so they can buy homes. Others aren't seeing big returns on their investments, what with the rock-bottom interest rates.

The take-away? As non-profits look to the future, they will have take the precariat into consideration. 

So the next time your board or boss says they want to increase your fundraising goals, ask them: 

“Have you heard about the precariat?” 

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