Charities ‘ditch ads at their peril’

Charities must join forces to convince the public of the value of spending their donations on marketing, according to a leading US practitioner, who claims the third sector would crumble without advertising support.
Speaking at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands, Dan Pallota, the president of the US consultancy Advertising for Humanity, claimed the sector was at a “complete disadvantage”.
“We blame capitalism for creating huge inequalities in our society,” he said. “But then we refuse to allow the not-for-profit sector to use the tools of capitalism to rectify those inequalities.”
Earlier this year MPs blasted major charities for spending too much on advertising and marketing to the detriment of service delivery. The move came as the Public Administration Select Committee was convened to discuss the future of funding for voluntary sector organisations and the role of charities in David Cameron’s much-vaunted big society.
Many of the UK’s top charities, such as the NSPCC (pictured) and Cancer Research UK, spend upwards of £10m a year on ads.
Pallotta said that he was joining with others in the third sector to set up a “charity defence council” in the States, which he hoped would eventually become an international campaign.
The scheme is designed to defend charities against defamation and would launch a big advertising campaign to educate the public about the value of marketing.
He said people did not like to see their donations being spent on advertising by charities. But this lack of marketing was part of the reason why the percentage of many countries’ GDP that went to charitable giving had stayed stagnant over many years, he said.
“We have to start to engage with the public about these things on a massive scale,” he said. “The public don’t know any better because we don’t speak to them.”

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