Research into third sector ‘can help shape charity communications’, says Public Knowledge

New research into the third sector by a North East-based market research company is to support the way charities interact with their supporters to help alleviate criticism in the industry.

A report by Public Knowledge, a North East-based market research company, found that 20% of people felt overwhelmed and under pressure from the level of unsolicited contact from charities, while 39% felt that charities spend too much on their communications.

The report, titled Donors Deciphered – Cracking the Communication Code, also found that 61% of people wanted more control over which charities they hear from.

Encouragingly, though, it did reveal that 51% of 18-34 years support their charities to influence others to support causes and become advocates of the chosen charity, if the communication is right.

The report also said that 51% of charity supporters do show loyalty to their chosen charities year-on-year and 43% support more than one charity, with 15% increasing their financial support in the last year. Three in five people were also found to support a cancer charity.

Dr Judith Welford, Head of Public Knowledge and a contributor to the report, believes the criticisms can help shape the industry and charities can reflect on their means of communications.

Dr Judith Welford, Head of Public Knowledge

She said: “Whilst supporters are happy to continue giving and trust their donations will be used to make a real difference, they do expect more transparency about how charities are run and more detailed evidence about how their personal donation is used.

“There is a strong movement for wanting more control over how charities communicate with supporters and this is reflected in the way they want to be communicated with. They want positive, up to date and real life stories and information about how their donation is used. Supporters are clearly seeking a partnership rather than a one way conversation.”

Dr Welford added: “Younger people are discerning and most likely want to know the detail of how their donation is used, but they are also optimistic and more likely to volunteer, sign petitions and attend charity events. They are more likely to support charities the way they choose, to raise awareness of the charity and gain enjoyment and reward.”

Public Knowledge, which is based in Hexham, Northumberland, forms part of DRG, an award-winning UK research agency group.

For more information about the report, you can download it in full by visiting the following link:



*Donors Deciphered – Cracking the Communication Code was based on an online survey of 5,000 UK adults.