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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Media Contact: Robert O'Keefe
(818) 677-3747
Media Release Archives


Stigma of Drug, Alcohol Abuse Undermine Nonprofit Fundraising Efforts


Although most charities suffer from so-called donor fatigue at one time or another, fundraising challenges can be a permanent dilemma for groups whose work involves social issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, the Financial Times reports.

The stigma of substance abuse, which is often viewed as a failing of the self, can be an added burden for substance abusers as well as those trying to help them. Indeed, the perception that drug and alcohol-abuse groups deal primarily with low-income individuals who require remedial help and rehabilitation rather than educational and economic opportunities has undermined many a fundraising effort. Compounding the problem is the fact that many locally based groups cannot rely on program alumni as a significant donor base, often lack an endowment, and simply do not have the fundraising and marketing clout of higher-profile national organizations.

Faced with such challenges, nonprofits that tackle drug and alcohol abuse issues need to be especially nimble, ferreting out funds wherever they can find them and appealing to donors in every way possible. "I have to pay special attention to what it is the donor is responding to," said Donna Wiench, development director of Daybreak Youth Services, noting that she does a lot of person-to-person fundraising. "If I see the eyes getting bigger, or that someone's responding to mention of a special interest, then I'll try and connect."

Driscoll, Ian. “Withdrawal Symptoms.” Financial Times 8/26/08.
Primary Subject: Substance Abuse
Location(s): National