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Outdated Charity Stereotypes Linger - Research


11 November 2014 at 10:44 am
Xavier Smerdon
The general public holds a variety of outdated stereotypes about modern charities and how they work, according to UK research.

Xavier Smerdon | 11 November 2014 at 10:44 am


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Outdated Charity Stereotypes Linger - Research
11 November 2014 at 10:44 am

The general public holds a variety of outdated stereotypes about modern charities and how they work, according to UK research.

The report Getting the Message Across by nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton and Jo Fischl say this means that much of the public continue to associate charities with amateurism and are therefore shocked to learn of practices essential to running an effective modern organisation.

Eight years after their original research, the authors say it is clear that the gap between how 21st century charities work and how the public think they work, remains substantial.

“These stereotypes are usually left undisturbed because charities have often not realised how outdated these often are in light of  modern professional practice in the sector, and have therefore not prioritised  addressing the gaps in understanding,” they said.

“If we continue to think of charities as small, grassroots, predominantly voluntary-run organisations (as, indeed, many still are), hearing about high pay for executive staff

of big charities, costly re-brands or fancy offices can look dangerously like waste at best and cynical mis-management at worst.

“These gaps in expectation and perception then lead to believing that staff are overpaid, too little reaches the cause, administration and fundraising costs are too high and that a donation is, in effect, wasted.

“Individual charities cannot tackle the big picture for the sector but they can get the message across to their own stakeholders especially staff, volunteers, the media and their supporters. In this way, they are also able to play a part in educating society about the third sector as a whole and working to improve public trust for all.”

The authors suggest that there are six key ways to get messages about effectiveness across: pledges; tangible successes; testimonials; surveys; wordbites; and confiding in stakeholders.

“Which methods appear most appropriate, and in which combinations, will depend on individual organisations, and we would encourage charities to take these ideas simply as a starting point for thinking about how they can better get their own message across on effectiveness and trust,” they said.

“The key to success is consistent, ubiquitous and unrelenting drizzling of messages

through every communications channel at your disposal. Not reams of information or a deluge of data (though you should certainly have this at your fingertips); but a constant release of simple, intelligible messaging that gradually builds up the context for informed and confident support throughout a donor’s lifetime.

Download the report HERE


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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