London offices are a waste of charities' money, says survey

Three in four people think that London-based offices for charities are a waste of money, new research shows.

The public also take a dim view of paying for rebranding, but more than half say they would feel confident that a charity spends donations well if they vetoed first class travel for staff.

The poll of 1002 adults by research consultancy nfpSynergy, shows that 74% of people feel London-based offices for charities are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ wasteful, with just 4% saying they were even ‘fairly’ worthwhile.

Rebranding provokes the same sentiment for 72% of people, with just 9% seeing their worth.

More positively, two thirds of people deem advertising worthy of spending money on and 70% feel the same about developing a website.

Nearly half think it’s worthwhile for charities to create magazines to update donors on their work, while 58% see the value of spending donations on lobbying.

When the nationally representative poll asked people to name ways a charity could make them feel confident they’d spend a donation well, 62% said a veto on first class travel for staff.

Just over half said the same about a charity run mostly by volunteers and one where no one earns over £50,000 a year.

One in five would feel confident if staff paid for their own Christmas party, while one in ten opted for staff working for free one day a month.

nfpSynergy’s driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said: “London offices make complete sense for many charities, so they need to be honest and proactive about the benefits. Being in London provides a much better pool of staff to recruit in and the small savings outside London would be a false economy.

"The same is true about paying someone more than £50,000 and £100,000. If that person brings a skillset, a breadth of experience and other benefits, be proactive and tell the world about it.

"I think every major charity can justify paying their CEO over £100k. What charities need to remember is that if London offices or £100k salaries are worthwhile, they need to scream and shout about why.

"The sector needs to talk about these issues now, not hope that nobody notices what they are doing.”

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