Half of people think a charity staffed by volunteers means donor money is being well-spent

03 Jul 2014 News

Nearly 70 per cent of people believe charity rebrands and London offices are a waste of donations, new research by nfpSynergy shows.

Nearly 70 per cent of people believe charity rebrands and London offices are a waste of donations, new research by nfpSynergy shows.

The study by the research consultancy, published today, also shows that half of those surveyed said a charity being mostly run by volunteers would increase their confidence that money was well spent.

In a poll of 1,000 UK adults in January, respondents were shown a list of ways charities spend their money and asked to say to what extent they thought they were wasteful or worthwhile.

London offices and rebrands were thought to be the most unnecessary expenses among the respondents, with 69 per cent saying both were somewhat or very wasteful.

The study shows that 39 per cent believe lobbying the government or other organisations is fairly or very worthwhile, and 23 per cent said it was very or somewhat wasteful.

But the report points out that the proportion of respondents who believe lobbying is a waste of money has increased from 15 per cent last year.

“This may reflect increased media focus on this kind of work in the wake of the lobbying bill, and suggests that some reputational damage may have been done to the sector in the area,” it says.

The poll also asked people to select five things from a list of 15 that would make them feel confident that a charity was spending its donations well.

Fifty two per cent of respondents said ‘no staff travelling on first class travel’ and 57 per cent said ‘no staff earning more than £50,000 a year’.

Nobody being paid a bonus was ticked by 46 per cent of respondents and 23 per cent would feel confident if staff paid for their own Christmas party.

But the study shows that more than half of respondents thought charity advertising was worth spending money on and that 61 per cent thought the same about website development.

Respondents were quite supportive of charities producing magazines to update supporters, with 44 per cent saying it was worthwhile.  

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: “Our research shows how important it is for charities to manage the public’s perception of waste and frugality. So while nobody travelling first class on expenses might save relatively small amounts of money, it is symbolic of a frugal charity. The public want to feel that the charities they support are being frugal and using their money wisely. Perception is reality for many donors and members of the public.
“This research also emphasises how far apart the public and charities are on paying staff. Many members of the public don’t like charities paying staff £50,000 a year, let alone £100,000. Half of the public think that a charity being run entirely run by volunteers would mean their donation was well spent. The sector has a long way to go in getting the message across about how modern charities work.”