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Viral fundraising campaigns “most likely to put people off donating”

Viral fundraising campaigns “most likely to put people off donating”

A survey by a money saving website has found that viral fundraising campaigns, many of them with selfies, are the method of asking that is most likely to put people off donating to charity.

The research by found that viral fundraising campaigns like #nomakeupselfie and #ALSicebucketchallenge would put 39% of Britons off donating to charity in response.

The two main reasons cited were

  • “too many campaigns in 2014” (41%)
  • “I couldn’t afford it” (27%)

The online poll asked 1,946 people aged 18 and over from across the UK about their charitable giving.

Popular methods of fundraising

Respondents were asked which type of fundraising activity made them most likely to donate to the charity in question. The results were:

1. TV fundraising – 33%

2. Online / Email fundraising – 22%

3. Viral fundraising – 19%

4. Street / door-to-door fundraising – 15%

5. Print fundraising – 6%

Unpopular methods

Given the same list of options, participants asked which approach by a charity would be most likely to put them off donating. The results were:

1. Viral fundraising – 39%

2. Street fundraising – 23%

3. TV fundraising – 21%

4. Online fundraising – 12%

5. Print fundraising – 5%

 Why did they not like these methods?

Respondents were then asked to explain why they were put off by these methods. They could choose more than one reason, and the results were:

1. There have been too many in 2014 – 41%

2. Cannot afford to donate– 27%

3. Never carry change – 18%

4. Fundraisers are too in-your-face –14%

5. Don’t agree with the principle of the fundraiser – 5%

Nick Swan, CEO of, commented:

“2014 has been a great year for charities. From the Ice Bucket Challenge to No Make-Up Selfies, this year has been saturated by an excess of fundraising campaigns on social media. It would seem that this has taken its toll on Britons and more people are being put off by charity campaigns”.

He did add however that it was important for Britons to continue donating to charity.

The end of the fundraising ?

Does this mean that the selfie has had its day as a fundraising tool? That is most unlikely, given that the most successful selfie-based fundraising campaigns have been created by charity supporters and not by charities themselves. For every major campaign run by charities it seems that some supporters are going to start showing their support by developing a selfie campaign. The response to the Manchester Dogs Home fire is just one example of this.

Surveys and polls that ask people about their attitudes to fundraising and giving also don’t always align with the statistics on how much they actually give and by which methods. This survey did not offer free text answers to some of the questions so there is a chance that some other reasons did not surface in the results.

The distinction between online fundraising and viral fundraising, two separate responses in the survey, is also not clear.


Photo: #Selfie ipsener on



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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