Positive changes through new perspectives: What does the public want?

Positive changes through new perspectives: What does the public want?

During the past 10 years, the charity sector has faced many external challenges. Lack of trust, accusations of aggressive fundraising methods, 70% of the sector income going to just 1.5% of charities, lack of digitalisation… the list goes on and on, not only in the UK but as a global phenomenon. However, rather than be defeated by such challenges, this should be seen as an opportunity. All sectors face periods in which disruption is needed, it is part of a vital cycle of change.

Perhaps now is the time for a new perspective. It is time for innovations to take place. Time to move forward by changing the dynamics and focussing on the impact charities and donors can make, together.

I have a great respect for the level of knowledge and genuine passion that charities possess about the causes they work and the good of their beneficiaries. If the donors and volunteers could be part of this by seeing first-hand what their help can do, the scenario outlined above can begin to change.

Respect the choices of donors

Whilst setting up whatCharity.com over the last two years, we have done a vast amount of primary and secondary research into both the sector in general and into specific consumer habits in charitable activities. Most people possess a natural and inherent need to help others, but how people choose their causes and methods of giving varies. Personal values, traits, circumstances and even just current events can influence giving behaviour. Although this could be considered normal “consumer” behaviour, in most cases there are still thoughtful and insightful people behind it. I’d like to share these surprisingly united views of donors on what charity means to them .

As all grassroots charities know, the impact they make goes far beyond just their intended beneficiaries. The charities, their core mission and their projects create a structured, engaging way for people to help others. It is not egoistic as a donor or volunteer to be proud of what we do. As you can see, the ‘helper’s high’ is almost touchable in these statements given by people on the streets of London.

Recognise the interest in impact

Our consumer interviews and several industry studies such as the NPC’s Money For Good study suggest that over half of the public is genuinely interested in where their money goes and exactly what impact it is making. The sector could gain an estimated £665m more voluntary income if this impact was more accessible and clearly shown. Ultimately, this comes down to story-telling. To us at whatCharity, factual story-telling is a combination of clearly demonstrating both the intentions and results of a charities work, as well as the personal experiences of its beneficiaries, volunteers and specialists. Most of the time, charities already have the “raw material” for these stories but either there just isn’t enough focus on telling them, there is no adequate time or resources, or they do not have the platform to do so. Please listen to some of the wishes from donors and volunteers about what they would like to see more from you.

Reward to engage

There is a huge amount of variation in the motivations for donating and volunteering, whether it is simple altruism or the need to gain work experience and enhance a CV. Whatever the motivation, a thank you is always necessary. Showing your charity’s impact, the changes these people’s actions are instrumental in achieving, is all part of the reward system. Some people wish for more credit or public recognition for their work and we shouldn’t think ill of this – Giver’s glow will only increase the engagement. Above all, this is about effective communication which suits the individual’s needs. Digital solutions using a platform like ours, will make this communication both automated and personalised.

The reality is that each potential donor or volunteer has only a finite amount of time, energy and resources and these are rarely allocated in any strict manner. Mostly, people just go with the flow, giving when asked and encouraged by the relative rewards. The decision to spend time volunteering will compete with other weekend activities and money can always be spent elsewhere.

It is up to the charities to engage with those that provide their resources (money, time, goods) and to get them hooked on the high of being helpful. The good news is that an “existing customer” is 50% more likely to help charities out in other roles…so the more you engage, the easier it gets.

For more information about whatCharity please contact shona@whatcharity.com. If you would like to request a welcome pack for our launch initiative please include your contact details and registered charity number.

Tiia Sammallahti



Launching in the UK March 2018

Tiia is leading the charitytech start-up whatCharity.com, a social impact company with a strong ethos to increase the kindness and charitable giving in the world through technology. Tiia is a 46-year-old brand and concept developer with over 20 years of experience in hospitality, FMCG and the property development sector. She set up a fundraising charity 15 years ago which still plays in vital role in funding mother and child related charities. She has experience working for a charity with 6,000 employees, in which she tackled many diverse challenges including re-branding the 25 sub-charity entities and preparing the organisation for corporate and voluntary funding.