Feeling Charitable

Irish people say that they donated over 30% more to a charity over the 2015 Christmas period than they did over the same period in the previous year, according to new research on donor behaviour for Fundraising Ireland.

In total, one in three Irish adults – that’s 1.1 million people – say that they made a donation in response to a Christmas charity appeal in 2015. This shows that the number of people making donations remains similar to 2014 donor levels.

A massive 89% of people say that they gave the same or more than they gave to a specific Christmas appeal last year. The average donation people say they made to a charity over Christmas 2015 was €16.40, up from €12.50 in 2014. This shows an increase of over 30% – or €3.90 – on the average amount donated in 2014, and an increase of 64% on the average amount people say they donated in 2013.

The research also shows that while donations are recovering, trust in the charity sector is still lagging behind. Just over half (53%) of respondents said that they had no opinion or didn’t trust charities to some degree. Last year, 47% responded similarly.

CEO of Fundraising Ireland Lucy Masterson said that the research, now in its fourth year, continues to put a spotlight on the unfailing generosity of Irish people and on their willingness to support those working with people in most need. It also put a spotlight on the charity sector to continue to work tirelessly to rebuild trust, she said.

Amárach Research carried out the research for Fundraising Ireland, in collaboration with An Post.

“This research shows clearly that Irish people are continuing to support the work of charities with their generous giving,” Lucy Masterson said.

“In return, we have a responsibility to deliver on this very tangible show of support by ensuring that we also give – that we give back open and transparent information about how donations are used, that we give value for money, that we give measureable details about the real impact we are having on people’s lives.”

“Fundraising Ireland will be putting a huge emphasis this year on the need for charities to focus on the impact donations are having on people’s lives,” she continued. “It is only in assessing impact that we can be sure that we are using donations as effectively as possible, that we can be sure that we are making the right decisions and putting the right investment into those who need it most.”

The research also reveals a gap between what Irish donors expect of charities and what they expect people working in charities should be paid.

Sixty percent of people agree that charities should get the best professionals to work for them. However, only 38% agreed that those high level professionals should be paid competitive wages. In total 46% stated that senior management in the charity sector should be paid less than senior management in similar sized companies in the private sector.

Lucy Masterson said that in a competitive and recovering economy, this gap in perception could make recruiting and maintaining quality staff difficult for charities, which have to compete openly with the commercial world for the same very best people.

An Post said that this research also showed that direct mail had a critical role to play in fundraising success. The research shows that traditional methods of fundraising are still the most popular with donors.

“This research shows that direct mail is the strongest medium of all with regard to charity direct debit sign ups, with the research showing 1 in 4 prefer the channel, growing year on year, “ said Fiona Heffernan, An Post. “Direct Mail gives people peace of mind in choosing to donate to a particular charity when faced with so many worthy causes.”

The research was carried out on-line with a representative sample of 1,000 people aged 16 and over. Interview fieldwork dates were January 11th to 18th, 2016.