The past few years have seen the UK public face crisis after crisis. Inevitably, this has led to a shift in the sector’s priorities as we’ve all had to adapt to a few ‘new-normals’ in a short span of time. But even as new concerns arise, the old challenges aren’t going anywhere. This has made it vital to track how the public’s top concerns are shifting at a national level, and whether or not policy is aligned with public demand.
Using our devolved nations research with politicians and the general public from Autumn/Winter 2022 and Summer 2022 respectively, we can see that certain issues do track strongly in importance between policy and the public. For example, while mental health charities are a favourite of just 20% of the Great British public, the Welsh public hold this cause in higher esteem, being a favourite of 37%, nearly double the average. And this is reflected in its importance to Members of the Senedd (MSs), for whom 41% said it was one of their core concerns. The mutual importance placed on this cause by both the politicians and public of Wales demonstrate a key finding of our research: the importance of varying branding between the UK-wide and devolved nations campaigning.
We’ve explored this topic in previous years, but there is now a stronger feeling within the devolved nations that they’d prefer to give to local charities.
Chart 1: Preference for where donation is spent in each nation? Charities communicating how their money is spent in each nation
“Consider a charity providing services in Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland. Which of the following would you be most likely to support?” Source: Celtic Charity Awareness Monitor, Jul-Sept 22, nfpResearch | Base: 1,000 adults 16+, Wales/Scotland, 800 NI
The majority of the public in all three devolved nations showed a preference towards supporting a charity that is either locally or nationally based. For Wales and Northern Ireland, there was an almost even split between favouring a local (25% and 33% respectively) and Welsh (28%) or Northern Irish (32%) charity. In Scotland, the inclination to support a local charity was smaller (23%) though just over 4 in 10 said they’d be most likely to support a Scottish charity. So can these charities find success in the devolved nations?
There have been success stories. As mentioned earlier, Wales places a high significance on mental health. In 2012, the Together for Mental Health cross-government strategy set out goals for improving mental health services in Wales. This showed good intent around progressing the cause and helped ensure that mental health remains at the forefront of Welsh government policy in Cardiff. The success of this movement undoubtably owed credit to actors such as Mind Cymru whose tailored campaigning within Wales brought about more support for this cause.
We’ve seen similarly effective campaigns around conservation in Wales, which is also amongst the top 5 favourite causes for MSs (23%) and the Welsh general public (21%). There’s been a concern that climate change would been pushed down the public’s agenda due to more pressing personal concerns such as the cost-of-living crisis. Charities in this sector have therefore had to work hard to ensure climate related issues stay prevalent in the minds of the public. WWF Cymru, for example, have launched campaigns to gain traction with the Welsh public using the locality and relevance of the country’s specific concerns. In this case, the dangers of water pollution and ocean dumping have been addressed with their Seas of the Future campaign which has better engaged the Welsh public than generic fundraising would have been able to. It has also allowed them to bring aboard prominent local ambassadors which has given their efforts a big boost.
If you’re a UK-wide charity, targeted marketing within the devolved nations should be a key feature of your brand strategy. Our devolved nations research has shown time and time again that adapting your fundraising at a national level will boost your reputation among these communities. And while creating branches for the various nations may be helpful, what’s needed isn’t just a new nametag. Demonstrating an understanding of the demands in your communities and tailoring your campaigns to address them must be your priority.
For more information about our Wales research, consider downloading a briefing pack below. Or for our wider devolved nations research, you can find more information here.