“I don’t know where the money’s going. I never know where any of its gone at all… and it gives me no heart to want to give if they’re not being transparent enough about it. They do [these appeals] every year and they say they raise all this money and they’re still wanting mosquito nets.”
“[Kids Company] got lots of money and went bust. They seemed to be spending money very haphazardly.”
And at the same time increased pressure to bring in donations has led charities to use techniques that undermine how ‘good’ donors feel about their donations:
“I subscribe to Save the Children. I did used to do one for deaf children, but they just kept phoning and asking for more money all the time. It was £8, and wanted me to go up to £17 a month, and they were just quite irritating.”
“When they’re phoning you up, you’re giving a little, which means a lot, but yet, they still want more. To me, that’s naughty.”
The bad news for the sector is that these are vital foundations for the charitable giving: donors must believe that their money is doing good and that the money will make it to that cause. Once a narrative that runs counter to this has taken root, reporters are more likely to pick up on a story that reflects it; the cycle is self-perpetuating. The foundations have been cracked.
The good news is two-fold: firstly, the public wants to trust charities. When asked how important a role they think charities play in society today, 93% of the public think that charities play a role of either fair, very, or essential importance. Second, (and unlike the news coverage) the drivers of trust and confidence are within the control of individual charities. Trust is fuelled by showing the public what charities achieve, the difference that they make sin communities every day. Impact assessment, previously seen as a ‘nice to have’, or something that happened on big government programmes is going to be our greatest asset in the coming years.
The charities that prosper in this new world will be the ones that can harness the new tools offered by social media to create a virtuous cycle which feeds back evidence of impact to the very supporters whose donations enable their work. This will make donors feel special, prove the link between donations and impact, and justify the way in which charities work. It is an ambitious goal but one worth pursuing.
Want to find out more? Why not take a look at the full report and data tables, available HERE
Or check out an infographic summarising the research HERE