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  • Writer's pictureNic Skipwith

What can charities learn from the 2023 Autumn Donor Pulse Report?


Nic Skipwith, Director of Operations

"I always look forward to the new Donor Pulse Report and, as ever, the latest edition makes for an interesting read. Released by the Enthuse Intelligence team, some thought-provoking topics and themes emerge from this one, including the ever-changing nature of how donors are choosing to give.


With another General Election on the not-too-distant horizon, and the turbulent economic situation remaining a cause for concern for many organisations, the report has focussed on the impact of trust and wider political issues for charities."


On trust…


Trust is, and always has been, of vital importance to the sector. To successfully fulfil their charitable aims, an organisation must have the trust of the public. Positively, despite lots of conversations about trust in a variety of institutions, public trust in charities remains relatively high. The public were asked to rank how much they trusted charities and the work they do on a scale of one to ten. 45% reported they had a high level of trust (8-10); 32% had moderate trust (6-7), and just 22% had low trust (1-5). A positive sign for charities who rely on the trust and goodwill of their supporters to secure donations.


Additionally, with inflation finally beginning to ease, there is a glimmer of hope that the worst may be over and the strain on the general public’s purse is marginally less than it was a few months ago. Despite this, the slowing of inflation has yet to be reflected in many organisational costs, and expenditure challenges are still an incredibly stressful reality for many. However, for the first time in more than a year, less than 50% of the public are feeling worse off. This is reflected in an encouraging stability in donation levels and future intentions to give, with 71% of the general public having donated in the last quarter (a similar level for the last nine months). It will be fascinating to see if this positive trend continues in the coming months.


Inverse giving


The topic of ‘inverse giving’ has been a recurring theme across this report and the previous one, a fascinating phenomenon whereby supporters donate to a charity in response to negative conversations that they see/read about in the media. 18% of the public have given for this reason over the last six months, and this number is higher among younger people.


Whilst there are many motivations for giving – personal connection to the cause, the organisation is local to them, religious reasons, or simply because they were asked, the emergence of responding with financial support to a charity that they believe is being unfairly attacked is an intriguing development and goes against the traditional view that any negative news coverage will negatively impact donations. I will watch this space with interest….


Campaigning


Many charities have a campaigning arm of their organisation, working to raise awareness of their cause and bring about systemic change from government. While this has always fallen within the role of charitable objectives, this area has become more contentious in recent years, and with a general election not that far away, it is something for charities to be mindful of in the coming months. 51% of the public say they want charities to campaign for change versus 49% stating they should stay out of politics. This divide can make it difficult for charities to decide how to best spend their efforts.


Interestingly, a different picture emerges when looked at by age. Under 45s are more likely to think charities should campaign for change (64%). The opposite is true for over 45s, with 61% feeling that charities should steer clear of the political arena. Charities may want to look to the demographics of their current supporters (and potential target supporters) when considering whether to scale up their campaigning work, or ensure they feel confident in the narrative for why they are choosing to engage in this way.


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