The true extent of the challenge faced by the charities has been exposed by a new study which shows nearly half (42%) of all UK adults are less likely to donate to charities following the sector’s annus horribilis.
If played out in reality, it would mean the sector stands to lose nearly half of the £10.6bn it receives from the UK public each year, and way beyond recent estimates from charities themselves that they would take a £2bn hit by 2020.
The study, commissioned by the REaD Group from YouGov, shows that despite arguments the problem lies with frequency of contact, it is the sector’s obsession with one particular segment of the population that lies at the heart of the problem.
The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has stated that it wants the public to be given more control over the way charities approach donors, after reporting that 4 in 10 (42%) of complaints received were related to the frequency of charity communications, while more than a third (35%) were about approaches being made to elderly or vulnerable people.
However, the REaD Group survey found that less than half (47%) of the public felt they are contacted too frequently but the vast majority (59%) of those aged 55 or over – so-called Dorothy Donor – felt they were being over-targeted.
The research shows that 84% of those aged 18 to 54 had charitable preferences yet only a minority (39%) felt they were contacted too often by charities. Only 33% of this same demographic stated they would be more likely to sign up to a charity if they could choose the frequency at which they are contacted.
REaD Group chief executive Jon Cano-Lopez commented: “It seems rather naive to target one segment time after time after time. The research shows that Dorothy Donor has simply had enough and is demanding change. However, the good news is that the research also shows the vast majority of the population are happy to receive requests for donations. Surely the time has come for charities to embrace these other lucrative segments?
“If you only ever target the recent donors or fixed groups, such as females over 55, you are creating a self-fulfilling model that will eventually reach saturation and by definition ignores the rest of the population.”
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