Third Sector survey reveals media damage to fundraising

Stories have made more than one in five people less likely to donate to charity, a poll by Harris Interactive shows

Survey: media criticism has had an effect
Survey: media criticism has had an effect

Stories in the media about fundraising methods have made 22 per cent of the public much less or slightly less likely to donate and have made 33 per cent of them think worse of charities, according to a survey by Harris Interactive for Third Sector.

The figures are higher among those in the over-55 age group – 35 per cent said they were less likely to give and 49 per cent said they thought worse of charities. Among the 25 per cent of respondents who could specify the subjects of stories they had seen, the figures were 41 and 62 per cent.

Among those who could specify stories, the top four subjects mentioned were harassment by phone (17.5 per cent), the targeting of elderly people (17 per cent), harassment by post (13 per cent) and the suicide of a pensioner (12 per cent).

A sample of 2,065 UK adults over the age of 16, weighted for gender, age and geographical location were questioned for the survey by Harris Interactive between 1 and 4 March.

Although 73 per cent of respondents said they were not aware of the new Fundraising Regulator, 51.5 per cent said they would be somewhat or extremely likely to register with the Fundraising Preference Service, which will allow people to opt out of all fundraising communications from charities.

Of those likely to register, 69 per cent said they would maintain a complete ban on fundraising communications, which would, if the figures held good, mean about 35 per cent of the UK population would close themselves off from charity appeals.

"Its clear that recent media talk has definitely affected perceptions of charities and the likelihood of people to donate," said Martin Bradley, associate director for media and entertainment at Harris Interactive.

"Whether this actually makes a difference in terms of giving remains to be seen. But it really does feel like a tipping point when you look at all these questions as a whole – the fundraising world needs to listen to what the public are saying."

Read more about the survey here.

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