Charity’s faith in UK donors

Despite fears over the lottery, the UK gives more to charity than any other European country. But which media channels are best at filling the coffers?

Since the introduction of the National Lottery, UK charities have found it increasingly difficult to raise funds. However, the work of the charity fundraiser in other European markets appears to be an even greater challenge.

New research from Initiative Media Futures, in conjunction with TGI Europa, Radar, demonstrates that across Europe, it is the British who are the most likely to dig deeply into their pockets.

The Radar research was carried out was in UK, Germany, France, Portugal, Italy and Spain in early 2000 and measured around 12 product categories and at least 20 communication channels dependent on country. The sample was 1,500 adults per country who were either re-interviewed from existing product and media surveys or via an in-depth Radar questionnaire.

The results show that over half of Britain’s population donate £5 or more to good causes each year. This compares with only a third of the French and the Spanish, and just one quarter of all Germans (although the number of German donors has increased markedly over the past 12 months).

Not only are we Brits more likely to be donors, but when we give, we also give more. Over a 12-month period, an estimated £980m is donated by the British population (almost double the donations received in France or Germany), and with the introduction of the Government’s Give as You Earn scheme, this can only increase.

But whether we really are more generous than the average European – or just more likely to tell people that we are – is open to question. However, if the National Lottery is used as an example, this claim to generosity looks somewhat short of the mark – in fact, the reverse may well be true. Of those who play the lottery, only 55 per cent claim to give £5 or more to charity, indicating that many do not count the money raised from their lottery tickets as a donation.

Favoured causes vary by market, reflecting differences in national concern. Nevertheless cancer research and children’s charities are a high priority in all markets. Other popular charities in the UK are the Poppy Day Appeal and Animal Welfare, supported by 31 per cent and 21 per cent of donors respectively. But, in the highly competitive world of charities, how can the impact of their advertising be maximised?

Independent planning research from Initiative Media Futures enables charity advertisers to identify the most effective campaign channels by choosing the right media for specific products on specific communication jobs.

Radar enables fundraisers to rank a wide range of channels on each of these attributes to determine the best channel (or mix of channels) for a campaign. Optimum channels vary according to which attributes need to be conveyed.

Subsequent analysis is based on all charity donors (information is not available for Spain). For instance, TV and Large Posters are the best channels to grab attention in Britain, whereas quality newspapers and special-interest magazines are a good place to place your ads to convey reliability to your audience (and of course targeting can be more effective using these media).

As might be expected, TV is the top-scoring channel for attention in Britain, France and Germany. It is when we move further down the ranking that a variety of channels come into play. For example, brochures and catalogues (France) and the Internet (Germany) are also considered good channels to grab attention. This variation by market is something that needs to be considered when planning multi-country campaigns.

The range of channels best suited to convey reliability tend to be focused on the press (with the exception of TV in Germany), while special interest and hobby magazines are seen as important in all three markets. Quality and regional newspapers work well in Britain and France respectively, although this may not be an option for many charities due to cost.

Analysis from Radar also shows the Internet is a particularly powerful medium, with its scores for fulfilling attributes such as involvement, identification and detail being much higher than the overall average.

The online influence is even more pronounced in Germany, where it scores higher than average on all attributes.

These strengths, harnessed with a strong creative idea such as NetAid’s online concert or the Hunger Site’s donation website, are sure to increase the persuasive charm of any charitable organisation.

Factfile is edited by Julia Day. Juliet Mathers, Initiative Media Futures consumer researcher, contributed

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