Public Think Charities Spend Unacceptable Amount on Admin, Survey Shows

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25th July 2014 13:30 - Voluntary

According to a recent survey, the British public tend to overestimate how much charities spend on fundraising and administration, and underestimate how much is actually spent on the charity’s cause.

The study’s findings showed that the public estimate charities spend about two fifths (38%) of their income on their cause, a similar proportion (37%) on administration expenses and one quarter (26%) on fundraising.

However, participants believe an acceptable breakdown of finances should equate to around two thirds (65%) of charities’ income being spent on the cause, one fifth (20%) going towards fundraising and around one sixth (15%) set aside for administrative costs.

Furthermore, of the 1,000 adults (16 years+) who were questioned, around two thirds thought an assistant to the Chief Executive (66%), an assistant to the Director of Services (65%), a charity’s photocopying costs (65%) and a charity’s Chief Executive (65%) budgets should fall under administration expenses.

A director managing several medical research projects (45%), paying volunteer expenses (45%), magazines giving supporters information about the charity (22%) and a person campaigning to change the law (22%) were also seen as administrative costs.

Among activities which were most commonly linked to money spent on the charity’s cause were: a nurse feeding children in a refugee camp (64%), a therapist giving counselling (55%), a magazine supplying people with information about a medical condition they suffer from (38%) and a person campaigning to change the law (35%).

Interestingly, 5% of the survey’s respondents thought funding a nurse to feed children in a refugee camp should be classed as administrative costs.

Joe Saxton, nfpsynergy’s Driver of Ideas, said: “The public is much stricter than charities when it comes to defining spending on ‘the cause’. Charities will have to work much harder if they are to close the gap between public perception and charity reality.

“Charities must start talking to donors, volunteers and the public and they must do it regularly, powerfully and with passion to help people understand not only what their money is being spent on, but also why it is money well spent.”

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