WORKSHOP: Case Study - Guardian spotlights domestic violence

Francois Le Goff

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Background: The Guardian began to support charities in the late-1990s and its Christmas appeal has become a tradition that other newspapers are trying to emulate. Donations made through the appeal have risen sharply over the years, with £505,000 raised in 2001 and £840,000 in 2002.

Each year, the newspaper selects two charities, an overseas aid charity and a UK cause. Particular attention is paid to those that struggle to find funding.

This year, the choice of The Guardian's Christmas appeal selection committee was influenced by a report produced by charity New Philanthropy Capital entitled Charity Begins at Home: Domestic Violence - a Guide for Donors & Grant-makers. Founded by a group of ex-City bankers, New Philanthropy Capital aims to improve charities' performance and build bridges between them and donors. The report, which argues that charities tackling domestic violence are largely under-funded, helped The Guardian to identify a sector with great financial need.

Aims: In addition to the support it traditionally gives to an international charity, The Guardian appeal 2003 helped nine charities tackling domestic violence. Each of these charities was recommended to the newspaper by New Philanthropy Capital. Being selected by The Guardian as part of its Christmas appeal gives charities unprecedented media coverage. It is also a great opportunity to raise funds.

How it worked: The report was sent to the newspaper soon after it was published in August 2003. Convinced that charities committed to reducing domestic violence needed particular support, The Guardian asked New Philanthropy Capital to select the most efficient organisations working in that area.

"We formed a partnership with it because it is the first organisation of its kind to provide high quality research into the best charities and projects," says Jo Confino, executive editor of The Guardian. "By working with New Philanthropy Capital we have been able to make sure our readers gain a real understanding of the range of issues around domestic violence, while ensuring that donations are spent effectively."

On 29 November, the newspaper named the charities it had decided to support through its Christmas appeal. The winners were overseas aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres and nine domestic violence charities, including Advance (a 24-hour advocacy service in London), a Barnardo's project in Bolton, and Refuge. These charities differ greatly in both their approach to combating domestic violence and their geographic spread, and their annual incomes range from £200,000 to more than £3m.

The Guardian encouraged its readers to make donations to these charities over the course of two months. It featured a series of articles about the charities' work, and the cost of project equipment.

Information about how the money raised would be distributed among the charities and deployed was available on The Guardian website. People could donate online or over the phone.

Results: By the end of January, readers had donated £640,000, which was a great deal more than the previous year, with more donations still to come. The appeal organisers are confident they will beat last year's figures.

One third will go to the domestic violence charities, the rest to MSF.

By turning the spotlight on them, the appeal should ensure a greater voice for domestic violence charities such as Advance and Refuge.

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