Giving to charity: a survey of public attitudes by nfpSynergy

Photo credit: jovike via / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: jovike via / CC BY-NC

Recent survey results of public attitudes towards giving to charity make interesting reading and could help you to plan better, more transparent fundraising campaigns.

The research was undertaken by research consultancy nfpSynergy, which also released results of its survey into what puts people off giving to charity.

Based on 1,000 respondents aged 16+, it reveals that the top factors that encourage people to give to a particular charity are:

  • The charity is clear about what donations are spent on (56%)
  • Learning about the impact the charity has (47%)
  • Positive stories about the charity in the media (37%)
  • Case studies / stories about individuals that have been helped (33%)

Interestingly, the results suggest that people aged 55 and over were more likely to want a charity to be clear about what donations are spent on and information about the charity’s impact. People under 35 preferred case studies more than older age groups and they wanted to be able to take part in fundraising events, receive thanks yous and have volunteering opportunities.

The results also showed the top reasons people would feel more confident about their donation being spent well, which are:

  • The charity is mostly run by volunteers (44%)
  • No member of staff ever travelled first class on expenses (36%)
  • Nobody in the organisation is paid more than £50,000 (35%)
  • Nobody got a bonus (31%)

It’s notable that these reasons are less important to respondents than they were in January 2014.

To accompany this research, nfpSynergy released results into what puts people off giving to charity. The top 4 reasons are:

  • Too little money actually going to the cause (54%)
  • Too much money spent on staff salaries (43%)
  • Not being clear on how donations are spent (40%)
  • Bad publicity about the charity (36%)

You can download both nfpSynergy research reports here:

It feels that people want more of a relationship with their charities, to learn more about a charity’s work and why that work is important. Perhaps charities need to improve the way they tell their stories and demonstrate their impact, to show how money, time and support invested in them translate into results.  So, what can charities do to make it easier for people to give to their cause? How can they address the concerns that people may have and improve their relationships with their stakeholders?

On a related note, I’m interested in starting a regular informal session where people from charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups can come together to share their ideas and support each other around telling their stories and demonstrating their work. If you’re interested in this, please get in touch using the comments section below.

Update: Lorna has shared a couple of useful links on the topic of how telling stories can help charities demonstrate their work. Here are the links:

Finally, the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network ran a fascinating piece yesterday asking whether charities are doing as much good as they say they are. It asks if the rise of ‘storytelling culture’ has replaced accurate reporting of a charity’s impact. The piece is written by the CEO of Street League, Matt Stevenson-Dodd, whose own annual report this year begins with a section on what the organisation didn’t get quite right, before presenting data-driven analysis of its impact. It’s a drive toward more transparent reporting that we could considering implementing in our own organisations.

3 thoughts on “Giving to charity: a survey of public attitudes by nfpSynergy

    • Thanks for that Lorna, that’s really useful. I’ll update this post with those links, as well as the one your shared about charity reporting.

  1. Hi there! I just wish to give a huge thumbs up for the nice information you’ve here on this post. I will be coming again to your blog for extra soon.

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