Most people 'want more control' over which charities they hear from

A report from the market research company Public Knowledge also says that about half of respondents to a survey think charities spend too much on communications

Detail from Donors Deciphered report
Detail from Donors Deciphered report

Almost two-thirds of people want more control over the charities they hear from and half feel that charities spend too much on communications, according to new research.

The report, Donors Deciphered – Cracking the Communication Code, based on an online survey carried out by the market research company Public Knowledge during June, says that 61 per cent of the 5,000 UK adults surveyed agreed they wanted more control over which charities they heard from.

Fifty per cent of the sample, which is made up of members of Public Knowledge’s in-house online panel, said they felt charities spent too much on communications, and 46 per cent said they felt both overwhelmed and under pressure from these communications.

The research suggests this is a factor in decisions by former supporters of charities to turn away from them.

The report says that of the 262 people in the sample who said they used to donate to a particular charity but no longer did so, 78 per cent agreed with the statement "there are too many charities to choose from" and 70 per cent said they were concerned that if they donated once, they would be asked for more and more.

Sixty-eight per cent said they were concerned about the trustworthiness of charities.

The research found these concerns were more prominent among older people, who also expressed concerns about the sharing by charities of personal information.

The survey also asked the group what they preferred charities to communicate. More than half (53 per cent) said they would like more information about how their donations were used, 45 per cent said they wanted real-life stories showing the difference made by the charity, 44 per cent wanted positive stories and 42 per cent wanted up-to-date information.

Only 3 per cent said they wanted celebrity endorsements.

In a statement accompanying the report, Judith Welford, head of Public Knowledge, said: "While supporters are happy to continue giving and trust their donations will be used to make a difference, a real difference, they do expect more transparency about how charities are run and more detailed evidence about how their personal donations are used".

The report shows that celebrities can have a negative influence on people’s donation habits. Twenty-eight per cent of the 3,952 charity supporters who took part in the survey said such endorsements had a negative influence and 9 per cent said they had a positive influence, giving a net influence of -19 per cent.

Survey respondents were also asked how they liked to receive their communications. Email communications were the preference of the 45-plus age group and 44 per cent of the over-65s also favoured this channel, although just over a third of this group said they preferred postal communication.

Welford added: "There is a strong movement for wanting more control over how charities communicate with supporters, and this is reflected in the way they want to be communicated with. They want positive, up-to-date and real-life stories and information about how their donations are used. Supporters are clearly seeking a partnership rather than a one-way conversation".

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