We have all seen them: images of suffering people and animals presented to us during breaks in our entertainment time. In the UK we have endless amounts of entertainment - in Great Britain alone it has been predicted that by 2017 the entertainment industry will be worth £65.5 billion and television advertising makes up £4.7 billion of that estimate. Advertising is big business and incredibly lucrative. But whereas adverts for new products, new media and better services play to our pleasures, charity advertising mostly evokes guilt. It is not surprising we see these heart breaking images whilst we ourselves are relaxing on the sofa with, let’s be honest, not that much to worry about. Not that I blame charities for using such a method, it is some form of the truth and great parts of the world are in dire need of aid, many parts of this country are in dire need of aid, and these adverts serve to remind us of that. But the question has to be asked, at what point is the truth itself exploited for financial greed? At the end of the day ‘charity’ is a business - big business.
This time last year it was reported that 30 executives of the UK’s 14 leading foreign aid charities were earning six figure salaries. Concerns over the morality in such charities ensued. At a time when the financial market was grim at best; it proved controversial for such excessive salaries in an industry that was supposedly built on the nature of giving.
Regardless, charities continue to be funded by the public, but is that because we feel a genuine injustice in the world or because that cute animal behind bars on TV made us sad? And , after successfully achieving a donation, will that donation be put to good use (as we like to believe and are led believe it will) or will it be used to film even more scenes of sorrow to fund further growth in salaries?
With more money the marketing opportunities become infinitely better. And better marketing means more awareness of your cause. The titans of Charity such as Cancer Research, Macmillan Support, Oxfam, Save the Children, to name a few, all obviously do a lot of good in the world, and have the huge marketing power to reach across the nation and further. But it can’t be forgotten that they are competing with each other just like in any other industry, for your money. So many of the little guys get overshadowed and forgotten about just like the High Street. There are 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales but how many can you name? I’m struggling to make it to double figures. This doesn’t mean that their cause is any less worthy of donation, but perhaps people simply do not know about them. There are also countless charities that don’t reach the income threshold of £5,000 and don’t have to register with the Charity Commission. The income of the top charity (as recognised by the Charity Commission) earns £951,352 a year, but there are 68,550 charities earning between £0 and £10,000 a year.
Brand recognition may have something to do with the uneven distribution of donations amongst charities. A brand recognised across the world means it is trusted by millions, and charity works in just the same way. Expert advertising and marketing presents a professional image, the Breast Cancer Research adverts for example are well produced adverts that can be pleasurable to watch, complete with quick and easy donation systems means they will have a high success rate. Marketing methods used by smaller charities such as knocking on doors and leafleting are more cost effective but lack the emotive power of an advert, and that’s where the problem may lie. Who wants to be bothered at home by phone calls and visits from activists when you can easily text a number, donate an amount and still have the feeling of doing something good in the world, very few.
It is worth seeking out a charity where you have an active belief in the cause, because they may not always be able to get to you. And that, however cheesy the saying may be - charity really does start at home.
Makerble's goal is to connect you (potential donors) with the charities that you really care about and that mean something to you. Not only this but we aim chart the impact that your donation has through pictures, statistics and films so that the results are tangible. Makerble aims to bridge the gap between donating and wondering where your money has gone but also wants to strengthen the relationship between donor and cause.
- by Emily Wright
picture: copyright of The Times