Trust in charities: Who cares?

Trust in charities: Who cares?

Public trust in charities is low. A raft of recent reports and opinion pieces makes for gloomy reading. Many commentators and sector bodies are of course looking to the future. Yesterday NCVO and ACEVO said they will work together to promote the positive impact of the voluntary sector.

CharityComms has been at it for a while, through the Understanding Charities Group. Last week we saw their draft narrative for the sector. Charities are invited to comment and contribute and it’s important that they do.

While we’ve been considering it, we happen to have also been finalising our latest guide, ‘Preparing a comms strategy’, which has reminded us that narrative and messaging don’t exist in a vacuum.

We mustn’t forget who we’re talking to.

A strategy cannot specify as its target audience ‘the public’. A comms campaign will only be effective if it’s based on an understanding of the people it aims to inform or engage.

So, while we read about the collapsed relationship between charities and ‘the public’ we must ask who that means. And who matters.

Not all audiences are turning their backs on the sector. Long-standing volunteers and supporters aren’t all walking away. Beneficiaries and service users aren’t jumping ship. Policy-makers aren’t all refusing to listen.

Indeed some charities we work with are seeing donor numbers rise. New communities of interest are forming, for example to raise money for people seeking refuge from violence.

We need to know exactly which groups have lost faith and who we need to reach. Which ‘publics’ really matter because they influence the sector’s ability to do its work? Who are we shaping a new narrative for and how do we want them to respond?

It may be out there somewhere, but we haven’t yet seen any research that provides this understanding. Have you?

We’d love to hear from you on this important challenge facing the sector. Comment here or find us on Twitter @amzpr.

The Amazon guide to preparing a communications strategy will be published tomorrow on our website.