By Andrew Holt

Charities are likely to lose donations from the public if they are thought to spend too little on their cause, new research suggests.

The poll, carried out by research consultancy nfpSynergy, found that 61% of people gave this as their main reason not to give and it has been the top choice for three years running.

Half of people would be put off by “not being clear how donations are spent”, while 47% said they would hold back their donation if “too much was spent on staff salaries.”

The research, based on a survey of 1031 British adults, also revealed that fundraising also features prominently in people’s reluctance to give.

Nearly half (43%) said they wouldn’t want to donate if fundraisers were “too persistent” and a third (34%) keep hold of their money if fundraising methods are “too intrusive”.

The study also shows a split in whether people think charities should save for the future.

Just over half (51%) thought charities should spend as much of their donation as possible on this year’s need, but 43% were happy to see more spent on fundraising if it would increase future income.

nfpSynergy’s driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said: “The evidence is clear; people want to know how their donations are spent. Charities should sing from the rooftops about what they spend their money on. It’s time the sector stopped huffing and puffing and bit the bullet.

"We recently called for an easy way to find out how much of their income charities spend on what they’re fighting and campaigning for. If charities want to increase donations and maintain the donors they already have, action should be taken...and quickly.”

The research revealed:

People’s most common reason for not giving to charity was “too little money going to the cause” (61%).

Half (50%) of people would be put off by “not being clear about how donations are spent”. 47% are put off by “too much being spent on staff salaries”.

Nearly half (43%) are put off by fundraisers being too persistent, with a third (34%) put off by fundraising methods that are “too intrusive”.

The public are torn between thinking charities should spend as much of their donation as possible on this year’s needs (51%), compared with 43% who were happy for more to be spent on fundraising if it will increase future income.

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