A Commentary on the Professional Fundraising Industry

Each year the National Post, the Globe and Mail and other national newspapers contain an eight page insert, advertising the wonderful works performed by the Arthritis Society. I always review these publications with great interest, particularly as our clinic administers up to eight hundred treatments each week, many of them for the treatment of arthritis. Despite this and the fact that Laser Therapy is currently being adopted by clinicians who are passionate about wanting to help their patients, laser therapy has never been mentioned in any of these elegant treatises. Indeed, over 70% of the patients that we treat at our clinic suffer from degenerative osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic arthritis and a number of arthritides of varying etiologies.

Our technology is currently utilized in over forty countries worldwide including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres and other health care facilities. Moreover, our organization conducts a significant body of scientific research and annually contributes thousands of dollars to worthwhile organizations anonymously. In addition, we provide many thousands of dollars of treatment annually without charge, primarily to needy, elderly citizens, who are often neglected.

It should not be a surprise that I am somewhat perplexed by these newspaper ads whose intent, after many years of reading, I am unable to grasp. I expect it is designed to increase the funds raised for reasons that are largely undisclosed. This organization, much like other fundraising groups, maintains an extensive staff, spends considerable resources on advertising and like most corporations attempts to increase their annual gross, presumably to reward management with generous bonuses, commensurate with their fundraising efforts. At the same time my research and experience leads me to believe that the not inconsiderable contributions, do not appear to provide any direct or indirect benefits to arthritis sufferers. Does anyone ever question what happens to these funds, i.e. where do they end up and why? – nor have I ever seen explanations provided by management. For instance, the most recent insert in the National Post dated January 2010, on its cover features an elegant sketch of the skeletal outline of the spine. At the bottom of the same page, it recommends the use of Rub A535, described as the #1 pharmacist recommended brand. Moreover, it is advertised as being recognized as the most arthritis friendly product and is recommended by the Arthritis Society. What is Rub A535 and what benefit does it actually provide?

On Page 2, it begins with an article written by the President and CEO of the Arthritis Society. In essence, it states that “arthritis is a problem” in our society. It quotes a number of statistics which are meaningless. On most of the pages, there are advertisements which may be misleading, repetitive and appear to have no relevance. Osteoporosis is extensively discussed and we all know that this is a disease associated with aging, lack of activity and poor dietary habits. There are many simple preventative measures that can be followed on a daily basis, to effectively counteract the negative aspects of this condition; i.e. a healthy balanced diet, some vitamin and mineral supplements and a minimum of 30 minutes or more of vigorous daily activity, yet none of these are stressed.

The 8-page compendium in the newspaper reveals nothing that is unknown, provides no effective solutions and concludes with a full page ad sponsored by Abbott Immunology. This infers that Abbott Pharmaceuticals can provide help in these situations, although there is nothing included that specifically states how.

Six years ago, a member of my organization made contact with the CEO of the Arthritis Society. After several discussions, a representative from the society was sent to our offices to explore our technology. Clearly, this was not someone at a significant managerial level and this individual spent most of an hour bemoaning the fact that her boyfriend was moving out of their joint residence and she did not know how to deal with this. She had no knowledge whatsoever of arthritis, laser therapy or medicine.

If the Arthritis Society were truly focused on helping people with arthritis, they would be exploring new therapeutic avenues and actually attempt to help the afflicted, rather than simply raising funds, which to all intents and purposes seem to disappear into the great nowhere.

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