Professional v Public

Our insights

We identified 7 measures that symbolise change and asked to what extent participants agreed with a series of statements. Then, we compared what the public had to say against the views of professionals who work in the charity sector to understand the gaps in perception.

Here’s a quick look at the data:

Questions
Public
Professionals
Gap
Charities…
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
 
Charities are more professional than they used to be
58%
25%
16%
81%
19%
0%
-23%
Charities are needed more now than over the last 20 years
55%
28%
17%
69%
19%
13%
-14%
Charities use more hard sell techniques than they used to
76%
16%
7%
44%
50%
0%
+32%
Charities are as likely to behave badly as businesses
70%
20%
10%
38%
44%
19%
+33%
Charities could lose the support of people like me
63%
25%
11%
31%
6%
63%
+32%
Charities need to use hard sell techniques to avoid being ignored
30%
26%
43%
13%
38%
50%
+18%
Charities increasingly use data rather than acting from the heart
64%
28%
8%
38%
44%
19%
+27%
* + means public agree more, - means professionals agree more. The bigger the number the greater the difference in opinion.

On 6 of the statements the public and professionals broadly agreed with each other. But on what is arguably the most crucial statement they didn’t: two thirds of the public think charities are doing things that could lose their support, while two thirds of professionals disagree.

However even when the two groups agreed, the intensity of their opinions varied substantially. For example, both groups agree that charities can be as guilty of bad behaviour as businesses, but the public are twice as likely to believe this.

And while both groups agreed that charities are both more professional and that their work is needed more than it used to be, the professionals scored much more highly on these measures than the consumers did.

In a nutshell, the professionals think things are in better shape than the public does.

Consumers and professionals do not look at charities through the same lens and we would not expect their views to be identical. But we were surprised at the variance in opinions. The well-known phrase “you don’t own your brand, your customers do” applies to charity brands as much as any other. Charity professionals need to be aware of gaps in perception and manage them effectively if they are to take their stakeholders with them on the journey of change.

 

Digging into the detail

Charities are run more professionally than they used to be

That’s what the public thinks – by a factor of roughly 4 to 1. The professionals are even more certain they are making progress – none of them disagreed with the statement.

Gap verdict: there’s broad agreement but the professionals award themselves significantly higher marks than the public does!

The work of charities is more important now than in the last 20 years

Out of all the questions we asked, this got the closest alignment between the public and the professionals. But that’s not to say that everyone voted the same way. Professionals were more likely to disagree, perhaps because they are closer to the coalface and feel today’s need more strongly.

Gap Verdict: Not bad, but the professionals could over-estimate the public’s appreciation of the role they play.

Charities use more hard sell techniques than they used to

A whopping 76% of the public agree with this, with the professionals lagging at 44%.

Gap Verdict: In spite of repeated media coverage, the public is feeling the impact of hard sell – and as we’ll see, they don’t like it.

Charities need to use hard sell techniques to avoid being ignored

We wanted to find out whether people are willing to forgive hard sell in the name of a worthy cause. But both the public and professionals disagreed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the public disagreed more than the professionals (by 2 to 1).

Gap Verdict: there’s room for greater alignment – and perhaps less hard selling

Drilling down into the data, we find that as people get older they believe both that charities are using more hard-sell techniques, and that they don’t need to use these techniques to stay relevant. In contrast, young people believe that hard-sell techniques are necessary for charities to compete.

Charities are just as likely to be guilty of bad behaviour as businesses

Views were more polarised on this than any other question we asked. Both groups acknowledged that charities do not always behave like angels. But only 38% of professionals agreed, compared to 70% of the public.

Gap Verdict: the professionals might have superior knowledge, but that’s not the point. It’s perceptions that count. There’s a big gap here.

Many charities are doing things that could lose the support of people like me

The acid test: will the public accept that every barrel may contain a rotten apple, or will they hold charities to greater account? Our consumers sent a warning short across the bows of the professionals with 63% vs 31% agreeing.

Gap Verdict: another area where the professionals need to work hard to stay connected to public opinion.

Charities are increasingly using data rather than acting from the heart

The public’s experience is that charities are indeed becoming more data driven. They agreed by a factor of 8:1. Professionals agree too, but only by a factor of 2:1.

Gap verdict: the professionals need to connect with consumers and reassure them that they do care – and are not just preoccupied with the numbers

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