Think of it in terms of investment. If you're taking time to invest your resources in a cause, improving the wellbeing of someone or something else, you're going to want a return. You're going to want to know that an impact is felt. Brand, as with most things, has a huge part to play in helping you form a decision on the charity you're going to support. But it's important not to let marketing hype cloud your vision.
If pushed for a chosen charity, most people would reply with a big brand that supports a cause close to their heart. Oxfam, Cancer Research UK, Save the Children, MacMillan. Just take a look at CAF Research regarding voluntary income for evidence of this. But just because they're heard of does not mean they are the best fit for your donations.
Obviously awareness is a key concern for any charity, but it's important not to confuse this with brand. They are very different things.
When choosing your charity, keep these things in mind:
- How did you hear about the charity? Did a huge, nation-wide advertising campaign shape your decision making? These sorts of activities are often important in raising awareness, but what cut of the charitable donations are being spent of billboard ad placement? Whilst there may be a sizable return on investment, it’s a question worth answering.
- What does that charity do? How does your donation help in improve the lives of others? Are you buying blankets and flour for underdeveloped communities, or helping with sustainable solutions that aim to help people help themselves – see Concern Universal and Tree Aid for an example of what I'm getting at.
- Are you up-to-date? Management – like in any organisation – changes all the time. And with change in management comes change in focus. So stay abreast of developments, make sure the cause you wanted to help a year ago has the same aims today. And don’t be afraid of people in the know changing your mind. Some of those street fundraisers really know what they are talking about.