Among the public’s grumbles about charities, complaints about fundraising seem to be the most recurring and often the most heartfelt. The results of NPC’s two public surveys by Ipsos MORI in 2014 certainly support this idea.

For three in ten people, charities putting too much pressure on people to donate is a top concern (findings from our January 2014 survey are outlined in Mind the gap). We didn’t ask a direct question about fundraising in our survey six months later, but respondents were given the option of saying what, if anything, charities are doing wrong. And 1 in 7 (not an insignificant percentage when it comes to unprompted responses) pointed to charity fundraising as a problem . Face-to-face fundraising—or chugging—and other methods of raising money all come in for criticism and are highlighted in our latest paper, Having their say: What the public likes and dislikes about charities.

The language used in the comments suggest that the public feels under siege. Charities are ‘accosting’, ‘badgering’, and ‘hassling’ them for money and ‘aggressive street teams’ are roaming the pavements.

People told us they thought charities were:

  • ‘Hounding people for donations in the street and on doorsteps.’
  • ‘They are pushy and also spend too much on flashy adverts’
  • ‘People on the street stopping you with a hard sell and canvassers knocking on the door. Don’t like either of these tactics’.
  • ‘Creating overly sentimental adverts, spending huge amounts on adverts. Chuggers!!! Get rid of them’.

Despite these strong opinions, there doesn’t appear to be a relationship between people’s concerns about fundraising and their trust in charities. It’s not clear why this is.

Perhaps people realise that charities need to raise money to to survive. Indeed, as our earlier survey showed, more than half of the public think that ‘raising money for good causes’ is an important role for charities. Maybe the public sees face-to-face and other fundraising methods, alongside say spam emails and people talking loudly in public on their mobile phones, as part of life.

The bigger problem comes with how the money is spent after it has been raised. Among those worried about spending, mistrust of charities doubles. While charity fundraising seems to be something people are prepared to live with—not knowing how organisations use their money or are what difference they make is something they are not.

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