What people want from a charity

How does the UK public think charities should spend their money? Research specialists nfpSynergy asked them and have shared what they have found in a report published today.

1. 56% of the public would give more if they knew more about how their money is spent

At West Mercia SAR we get most of our income from grants; Specifically the Inshore Lifeboat Grant, and the UKSAR Training Grant.

These grants provide us with central equipment (boats, vehicles) and training, but don’t cover the day-to-day items such as rent of storage units for our boats, fuel, insurance etc.

We also apply for many small grants to fund individual projects such as new first-aid bags, training programmes for our water-rescue team, SONAR etc.

Most other costs have to be met by public donations, supporters and subscription fees from our members. We have several bucket collections per year which top up our general funds and pay for the above, plus first-aid supplies, training venue hire, provisions at extended searches, collection tins and safety equipment.

Nobody in the team is paid expenses or a wage.

The team pay for their own uniform and personal kit.

2. The public want 57% of their donation spent on helping beneficiaries

With very small exception – a few hundred pounds per year spent on purchasing new collection tins, display boards for talks and training equipment – every penny we earn goes towards supporting our operational team’s existence, training and maintenance.

It’s important to realise that the overheads of our CHARITY are nearly zero, but the overheads of our operational team are significant (£15,000 a year), and that’s a differentiation which most charities don’t have to make.

3. The public say their ideal is to spend on admin, fundraising and campaigning in equal proportions

Aside from rent, utilities and insurance, our admin cost is pennies per year. All our admin is done voluntarily and on systems which are free for small charities. Our fundraising costs are met from collections (we buy tins, display boards and occassionally fuel a vehicle to display at a collection), and we do not spend on campaigning.

 This weekend’s activities as an example:

Saturday

  • 1 member on Search Planning course – £70 funded by charity
  • 6 members on Search Technician course – self-funded
  • 5 members kayak-search training – self-funded
  • 7 members fundraising in Telford
    • Personal fuel – self-funded
    • Tins – £5 each funded by charity
    • Payment to attendees – none!
  • 1 Day’s Rent* – £20, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s Insurance* – £11, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s vehicle overheads* – £14, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s utilities cost* – 80p, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s operational system cost* – £2, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s averaged fuel cost* – £4.50, funded by charity

Sunday

  • 10 members land-search training – self-funded
  • Website hosting & design change – no cost
  • New control van fit-out – ongoing funded by grant
  • 1 Day’s Rent* – £20, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s Insurance* – £11, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s vehicle overheads* – £14, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s utilities cost* – 80p, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s operational system cost* – £2, funded by charity
  • 1 Day’s averaged fuel cost* – £4.50, funded by charity

*Our monthly average cost, divided by 30.