26 March, 2013
Does your organisation invest enough time and energy in communicating what it does, and the impact it has?
Where does communications rank in terms of importance?
Are you the only one banging the drum?
A recent study by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) found that people in the UK would be willing to give an extra £665m a year if charities were clearer about what they do, how they do it, and the difference it makes. That’s a total increase of around 11%.
As PR and marketing budgets continue to be squeezed, perceived by many to be ‘luxuries’ in comparison to service delivery, this study is a strong reminder of the importance of investing in communications. Often work to raise awareness and engage and educate seems intangible against work specifically aimed at generating funds, managing staff and volunteers, or providing direct help to beneficiaries. But taking the time to talk about your organisation’s work, its principles, and its impact, is vital to establishing and maintaining a level of credibility that acts as the foundation for everything else.
The study into donor motivation found that distrust of charities was one of the biggest reasons for not donating. People are concerned about wastage, administration costs and lack of transparency – all things that can be tackled through clear and considered communications. Holding out a hand and asking for money, at a time when many are feeling the pinch, seems naïve if you haven’t first addressed these concerns.
It is easy to fall into the trap of underestimating our audiences. We know that people give to those causes they feel a personal connection to, so perhaps there is a temptation to think they will donate no matter what, simply because of an organisation’s proximity to their own experiences. However, NPC’s study showed that 63% of donors pay close attention to evidence that an organisation is having an impact.
So next time you find yourselves caught up in debates around cost savings and cut backs, arm yourself with a copy of NPC’s study as a reminder that what may seem less tangible could be the very basis of your credibility and appeal.
For more on how to make the case for investment in communications, read our own report, ‘Get Heard’, in partnership with CIPR Fifth Estate.
We’d love to hear your views on communicating impact – tell us what you think works, and what doesn’t!