I have carried out some basic market research on what people think of charity collections and it has yielded some interesting results. These are, of course, based on tiny samples but it is genuine opinion and should not, therefore, be ignored when considering future fund-raising campaigns.
My first question related to collection tins with particular reference to those on the high street and in supermarket foyers. Were people in any way intimidated?
“Maybe I’m excessively grumpy but I rather resent not being able to go to the supermarket without having to run the gauntlet of a charity collection.”
“Personally, I tend to lob ‘free change’ into street collectors’ tins – but would shy away if I felt they were going to engage me in a conversation. It’s a ‘drop the money in and keep on moving’ activity.”
While the second response was a negative reaction to being approached I was interested to know whether people’s donation behaviour could be influenced if they were informed what their money could be used for. Do people really care where it goes? Would collectors briefly engaging with an individual help or hinder the fund-raising process?
“I hate being waylaid at the door of Morrison’s with people ‘selling’ things for charity – I’d rather just give the money and be done – don’t think I’d fancy having to stop for a chat … maybe some sort of information leaflet would help stating what different sums can fund.”
Receiving printed literature whether in person or via direct mailings also initiated strong feelings.
“The specific charities I support are ones which initially sent a (fairly brief) letter (WITH NO FREE PEN – that drives me nuts) outlining what x amount per month would provide, and how much of my x amount would go on overheads. Then they don’t send anything else, and just collect my money each month and that’s fine by me.”
“Apathy overcomes me on receiving a charity leaflet, whether handed out, or shoved through the letter box and no matter how well it is designed it represents nothing except more waste paper to recycle.”
The general public would obviously like to see all their contributions directed to those that really needed it but many would be surprised at the percentage that is actually used in this way. It was interesting to note in a report and accounts from one leading British charity – the Association for Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus (ASBAH) – that charitable expenditure is very creditably, more than 60% of receipts though many people would be likely to consider it to be quite low. This fact was commented on thus:
“I like to think of myself as a reformed Chartered Accountant but I’m not sufficiently reformed as to ignore the fact that any expenditure would not be administrative or fund-raising, but would be furthering the charity’s aims and that any sponsorship would be revenue, helping to keep charitable expenditure at above 60% of receipts.”
When told of ASBAH’s campaign for the inclusion of folic acid in bread one person I’d spoken to had absolutely no idea that folic acid deficiency during pregnancy is implicated as a cause of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Without that information they would more likely to be against its inclusion in the bread making process. It is another example of public perception not being based on the complete facts but when people hear of additives in their food there is generally a negative reaction.
Personally I was aware of folic acid supplements because we have three young children but not everyone would know this. I thought that was a massive coup to get folic acid to be added to bread as a mandatory measure.
This is why it is so important that a message is as effectively communicated as possible to ensure the public buy-in to the cause the charity is raising money for.