As the digital economy continues to redefine markets and society, it’s hard to imagine a facet of everyday life, that has not in some way been touched by digital technology. For charities that have traditionally acted as a link between supporters and causes, the more connected world can pose a challenge as more empowered donors look to self-select what to do with their time and money.

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Furthermore, competition is now rife. We have witnessed the highest number of charities registered in England and Wales in a decade, reaching a total of 168,000[1]. There is also additional competition from outside the sector via corporate entities, and donations in other means such as time and physical assets, meaning donating money to a charity is not the only way to satisfy the public’s sense of social purpose and goodwill.

The business of ‘doing good’ has become more demand-driven, resulting in heavier and more diverse competition for the attention, time and money of increasingly demanding supporters. The challenge with the increased competition in the cause arena is how to communicate what makes you different and worth supporting.

People are growing exhausted from the ever-intensifying marketing noise. So, it’s important to look for new ways to meet people’s needs, desires and emotions. Our recent research, Revitalising Support, identifies four influences impacting support:

  • Relevance, as preferences tend to go to charities with a personal link and local community support;
  • Uncertainty in the use of personal data and GDPR impacting how charities conduct further fundraising;
  • Trust, as 58% of adults believe negative news hinders the entire industry[2], leading to an average trust level of 55% in 2018[3];
  • And finally, methods of support, due to a decline in on-street donations.

A public engagement report from CharityComms stated that achieving communication cut-through is a major challenge for charities wishing to engage outside of their core supporter base[4]. The sector has an over-reliance on Direct Response TV, however, an excess of 80% of Charity DRTV ads are given a 1star rating by members of the public[5]. As the volume of content and media proliferates, brands need to deliver more compelling and evidenced advertising, otherwise, face being forgotten.

As a way to overcome a continuously saturating market, charities need to articulate why they are unique and worthy of support.

Brand Perception is key for building trust, and every brand interaction will have an influence. For charities, transparency around progress and demonstration of their impact is essential, as 82% of adults agree charities should be clear how donations are spent to the public, and 77% agree that charities need to be clear on how they use personal data[6].  Therefore, clarity and accountability should be embedded in everything a charity does in order to build trust.

Organisations, in general, should focus on consumer experience in order to make support easier as year on year, Forrester reports stronger revenue growth from business that lead from consumer experience[7]. This can be implemented through ease of donating, as research from payment app Pingit found 28% of Britons would prefer to donate using their mobile rather than cash, cheques or direct debit[8]. Evolving to accommodate ‘lifestyle giving’, a term referring to integrating donations into people’s pre-existing behaviours can benefit charities immensely.

With 57% of people believing that the pace of change is too fast[9], and people growing more and more exhausted from the ever-intensifying marketing noise, charities and brands alike need to look for new ways to meet people’s needs, desires and emotions.

Read Dentsu Aegis Network's latest report Revitalising Support: Maximising moments that matter in the charity sector and find out more on the impact of the digital economy on the charity sector.



[1] Mintel – Charitable Giving Report (June 2019)

[2] Canvas8 – “What’s Next For Charities In A Low-Trust Society?”

[3] Canvas8 – “Shelterbox Book Club: A Novel Twist On Charity”

[4] The future of public engagement – Charity Comms Conference (Feb 2017)

[5] System1 – Charity advertising (

[6] Charitable Giving – Mintel 2018

[7] Dentsu Aegis Network - Revitalising Support: Maximising moments that matter in the charity sector

[8] Canvas8 – Charitable Change (Feb 2019)

[9] Digital Society Index

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