NFP Synergy conduct their utterly fascinating Charity Awareness Monitor. They survey the general public and find out interesting things like has anyone ever heard of you? If they have, do they like you - or want to run a mile?
I recently had the privilege of attending a briefing on their Scottish survey and one thing really struck me.
People don't trust us.
And I mean US in the broadest sense. You and me, charity friend. All of us.
Most charities fall far short of the ideal where most people are concerned and never more so than on cost effectiveness. People don't like us having administrative overheads. They're not sure that we're spending their money wisely and well.
Fine, say NFP. So then they asked what would encourage you to trust a charity? What factors come into play?
Top of the pops?
Good fundraising practice.
Seriously. It's down to us kids.
So what does that mean? Do people want to know if we adhere to fundraising standards? That we are members of regulatory bodies? No. Because - unsurprisingly - most people haven't heard of any fundraising standards board. So what does good fundraising practice look like to Joe Public?
Here's what we thought:
If it's not about regulations, it's about experience.
It's about how people experience fundraising. About it not being aggressive or intrusive. About it being a pleasant encounter.
It's overwhelmingly about cost effectiveness.
In a world swimming with misinformation about how much charities spend on non-cause related stuff, people want to know if you are being cost effective. And we don't often tell them.
So there's some food for thought... when we're thinking about methods of encouraging donor participation we shouldn't just think about the ones that will bring in the most money in the short term. We should think about which offer the donor the best possible experience of donating and which are most cost effective.
Should we be spending £1 million on fundraising if it raises £2 million? Or should we be restricting ourselves to types of fundraising which offer, at the very least, a 1:3 return on investment... even if the net income is lower?
It's our charities' reputation on the line.
I don't have the answers - do you?
Answers on a postcard please!