The New Alchemy

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This is our second major report on volunteering. We published The 21st Century Volunteer in 2005 and it was our most popular free report for many years. But over time, many things in the world of volunteering, charities and the wider economic, social and political climate have changed.

Use frequent, clear messages to improve public understanding, new report urges charities

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Short, snappy and regular messages are the key to building public understanding of modern charities and how they work, according to a new report. “Getting the Message Across,” written by research consultancy nfpSynergy, says that there are huge misconceptions about charities and their spending, but they can be combatted with the right narrative and soundbites.

Searching for Answers

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An overview of how transparent 50 UK charities are, based on the investigations of nfpSynergy's researchers.


The idea that the information the public wants should be both available and easily accessible has been encapsulated in a new buzzword - transparency. Since the CEO salary media storm back in 2013, many charities claimed they're now transparent. But is this really the case? How long does it take to find out a CEO's salary or how much a charity spends on admin? 

Charities shun internet advertising to focus on direct mail

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  • Charities spend the bulk of their budget on direct mail, with it representing over two thirds of their spending at an average of 69% since 2006. In 2013, charities spent £238.9m on direct mail (slide 16)
  • UK charities spend just 2% of their advertising budget on internet ads. That has barely risen since 2006, when it was 1% (slide 25)
  • In the rest of the advertising industry, internet advertising has constantly increased since 2010 to reach 46% (£14bn) in 2013.
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