Given where I am and what the date is there’s a certain piquancy to this revelation of problems and redundancies at Amnesty International. As we should all know the organisation was founded to protest the treatment of dissidents under Portugal’s fascist regime. One that we celebrate the end of on April 25th. Vive La Revolution and all that – someone else can look up how to say that in Portuguese.
Human rights workers at Amnesty International are braced for scores of redundancies after the management admitted to a hole in its budget of up to £17m to the end of 2020. Up to 70 jobs will go in voluntary and compulsory layoffs amid a slump in donations and a multi-million pound increase in spending on fundraising, the Guardian has learned.
Perhaps they should take a little lesson from homeopathy there, spend less on fund raising and thereby gain more funding?
Yes, obviously, that’s not being entirely serious. But it is true that the marginalist revolution was correct, things happen at the margin. Spending nothing at all on fund raising would still mean Amnesty would have some income. There are those who know already and would donate. It’s also true that the billionth dollar they spend on fundraising might not bring in a dollar of revenue. There’s some limit to the number of people in the world – and how much they’re willing to donate – who give a damn about governments topping criminals.
Somewhere inbetween there’s a number where the marginal ad spend of a dollar brings in that one marginal dollar as revenue. That’s where spending on fund raising should stop, obviously enough. They seem to be going over that, beyond the Laffer Curve of fund raising perhaps, so they would in fact have more net revenue if they cut their fund raising spend.
That’s all pretty basic really, isn’t it? It’s this next which is piquant given my time and place:
Staff have been told the organisation will be reshaped in line with the vision of recently appointed secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, who wants to increase Amnesty’s work on climate change and economic rights. There are concerns that cuts will marginalise in depth research on totemic Amnesty causes such as the death penalty, torture and the arms trade.
So, Amnesty is moving away from the very thing which made it distinct and distinguished and becoming just another part of the lefty Borg. And they wonder why they’ve got to fire people? Why not, as we so often say for profit companies should, stick to the unique, the very thing that you’re good at and distinct at? Sure, that may not bring about the nirvana of social justice anytime soon but it could well be more effective at stopping governments from topping criminals.