Does this year’s safeguarding crisis threaten regular giving?
When negative stories about charities hit the press, what does this mean for charitable giving across the sector, asks Dominic Will, Joint Managing Director of HOME Fundraising.
As we all know, trust and confidence can be a fragile thing and yet it is a key currency of charitable giving. People rightly won’t give unless they trust that their money, their generosity, will be put to the best use.
So, what happens when negative stories about charities hit the press?
In February 2018, a series of safeguarding issues in the international aid sector was widely publicised in the national media. While the news itself was concerning, it was also reassuring to see how quickly the sector rallied round to strengthen safeguarding measures and to assure stakeholders of their commitment to doing so.
Among those working within the fundraising sector, concerns were raised about the impact of this news and what such sustained negative publicity could mean for public opinion and trust in charities. In particular, what this would mean for regular giving, which is such a vital income stream for UK charities.
With this in mind, the Institute of Fundraising asked us at HOME if we had any evidence to suggest that the public was any less receptive to fundraising than they had been before. Encouragingly, our records show a comparable sign-up rate for door-to-door fundraising approaches this February to those made in the same month during 2017. What’s more, we’ve seen a steady increase in March. The online donation platform JustGiving and Rapidata – the specialist Direct Debit payment processing firm for charities - report a similar story.
The full picture is unlikely to emerge for many months yet – particularly in light of today’s headlines about the Charity Commission’s investigation into Save the Children. But these early signs suggest that the public retains a high level of trust in charities and that regular giving has not been adversely affected as some had feared.
As the Institute of Fundraising’s Head of Policy and External Affairs, Daniel Fluskey, says: “Great fundraising is happening and people are continuing to give.”
While we cannot ever take this for granted, the British public’s empathy and charitable spirit remains strong and charity supporters remain committed to doing what they can to help others and the good causes they care about.
For more, see this blog from Daniel Fluskey: