The first choice for
strategy and fundraising
The timing of the typhoon that hit the Philippines this month and the subsequent DEC appeal looked like they would make a big dent in the public's support for this year's BBC's Children in Need appeal.
However, CIN this year raised over £31 million (apparently a new record), while the DEC appeal has so far raised over £33 million for the Philippines, a phenomenal response in a short space of time. So what are we to make of these remarkable results?
Of course natural disasters, backed by powerful news footage, always make a big impact on the public. This year, live coverage of real people appealing directly to the viewer for food and water made a very strong case on news bulletins and in the DEC appeal video. While the amount raised by the DEC to date is way off the 2004 Asian Tsunami total of £392 million, it is still a good response in a relatively short time. The £33 million total also does not include money given directly to nonDEC members, such as Shelterbox, which is also appealing for the Philippines. Clearly, when disasters strike, the public are prepared to respond generously with oneoff donations, even if the country is still coming out of recession.
Children in Need, while also emotive, is a very different proposition from a DEC appeal and I suspect in part that the two appeals attract slightly different donors. For one thing, the funds are spent in the UK, which some donors prefer, and of course children can make a very strong proposition. Like the DEC, however, CIN also benefits from massive free media coverage, celebrity support and a welloiled, professional fundraising operation. But these factors have always applied, so why the record appeal now?
While economists are telling us that the UK is starting to pull out of recession, this has not yet fed through into people's pockets, with most public sector workers on pay freezes or 1% wage rises and inflation in living costs, such as energy, running way ahead of income growth. Unemployment is also still 7.6%.
What the CIN and DEC results perhaps tell us is that general confidence in the economic outlook is growing. People may not yet be better off, but they feel the worst is over and - for the right cause - are willing to be generous.
This does not mean we are about to return to the rosy days when fundraised income went up year on year as a matter of course. Some areas of fundraising - such as committed giving - are still struggling in a lot of charities. But perhaps the two appeal results (untypical as they admittedly are) do tell us that the public are starting to feel more confident about the cash in their pockets and are willing to respond to an effective appeal. Less emotive causes and those which struggle to gain the public's attention will, of course, still have to fight for every penny - but perhaps it does mean that we as a sector have turned a corner and can now plan individual giving campaigns with a bit more confidence than even a month ago.
It will be interesting to hear how other charities are faring now, especially as we enter the run up to Christmas.
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