Charity shock tactics put donors off

Charity marketing campaigns which use distressing imagery to pull at the heartstrings of donors are barking up the wrong tree, according to the Charity Commission, which claims a positive message is much more likely to illicit a donation.
This is one of the key findings of a report, Public Trust and Confidence in Charities, written for the regulator by Ipsos Mori, which shows more than two-thirds (67%) of the public are concerned about the methods used by charities to fundraise.
It says volume is one aspect of this. Common complaints include people being “bombarded with leaflets” and feeling “put upon” to donate on the spot by door-to-door fundraisers, telephone fundraising, ‘chuggers’ and those who carry collection tins are also a source of frustration.
The use of emotive imagery, showing people in distress, is seen by many as a very cynical way of encouraging people to donate. Previous research on charity messages conducted by Ipsos MORI revealed that negative messages and images were less favoured by potential donors. They preferred to see a positive image that demonstrated the good their donation could do.
Even so, the study, based on responses from more than 1,000 adults in England and Wales, says that public levels of trust and confidence in charities have held up despite much uncertainty and change in the environment in which they operate.
Members of the public give charities an average score of 6.7 out of 10 for their trustworthiness, the highest score since the Commission began the survey in 2005. The score makes charities among the most trusted groups in society, with only doctors and the police more trusted.
Overall, 96 per cent of people say that the role of charities is essential, very important or fairly important.
The report concludes: “We would like to encourage all charities to be aware of and understand the joint responsibility that the charity sector and charity regulator have in protecting the current high levels of public trust and confidence in charities.”

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