International Day of Charity with WaterAid

In celebration of International Day of Charity, Rik and Charley sit down with WaterAid’s Supporter Exploration & Influencing Lead, Wanji Wambari Kairu, to discuss the current state of charity in the UK, the future of charitable giving and why trust is a crucial metric for NGOs.

Available to listen here.


Hello and welcome to Unmuddled. Unmuddled is a podcast from media experts The Kite Factory. In each episode, we will take a current topic impacting the marketing industry, and then we will simply Unmuddled it, breaking the topic down into the key information you need to know, what we see as the implications of that, and then the relevant actions you can take to help drive growth for your business. I’m the chair factory’s managing partner, strategy Rik Moore. And today I’m joined by my colleague, strategy director charlie day. Hello. Hi, Charlie, how are you doing? Good, thanks. Excellent. And Wanji Mumbari kairo support exploration and influencing lead at Auto Hi. Wang hello. Hey, how are you? Good, thank you. Good stuff. Well, today’s topic is governed by one of those International days, you know, to the calendar. Today’s International Day of this X, Y and Z. Actually, September 5 is cheese pizza day to the Americans. But actually, as well as that, September 5, 2022 is International Day of Charity. It’s a day was instigated by the United Nations to mark the death of Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize. In with International Day of Charity coming up, we thought it’s a good time to reflect on the state of charity here in the UK. What’s the current situation? What are the threats to the sector? What are the opportunities? And indeed, what is the future for charitable giving here in the UK? Wangi we invited on particularly because Water Rate a leading charity in some of the most successful stats we’ve seen, particularly around things like retention, but also fantastic campaigns we’ve worked on, you with recently. I can think of what Jack gave in the legacy space. I can think of the girl who bought a rocket, which we did around the Mars missions. Really great campaigns there. I’m, from Charlie’s point of view, an excellent colleague of mine in the strategy team, but also a fantastic wealth of experience in the charity sector of two decades worth of experience, including eight years at NSPCC and ten years of water aid. So a pair of heavy hitters joining me today. So I guess I throw the first question to you, which is simply what’s going on in charity? Charlie, maybe we start with you. Yeah, I think charities have taken a huge hit over the last few years. We have this state of flux that we’re all experiencing. So this barrage of global events, climate disaster, COVID war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis, and then this kind of impending recession, and this is all contributing to this. We talk about this endemic of go global mistrust. Trust is my favorite metric, it looks like, because it’s the main driver of charity and the donations linked to trust, it’s all linked around trust. And these two, we’re seeing a decline. I think we were reading the other day that six in ten people say they distrust something until they see evidence that’s trustworthy and about 57% of the UK feel powerless to affect change. So all this is contributing to the erosion of trust and linked to that, people donations in decline. So I think the main point is rules uncertainty. Charities are going to have to get really creative to stay afloat in this cost of living crisis, in this period, in this pending recession, which I find incredible, really, and the pressure that they’re all under, considering how often we rely on them to fill the gaps when arguably other institutions fail to help in this crisis. So I think that’s like a summary of what’s going on right now for NGOs. Fantastic. I think trust is such an interesting point. You are trusting people, you’re giving them your money, you’re trusting is going to be spending a responsible way. We keep talking about this fantastic Ted talk we saw about it’s. The dopamine hit of giving a feel good fact. You get a given we can all relate to, but it only happens apparently, or it’s enhanced rather, if you can see the tangible benefit of where you’re giving your money, if you know how that’s being applied, how you know it’s being taken forward. No really good intro to you. How do you see things going in charity at the moment? What’s your take on the category as a whole? I’ve recently moved into the retention side at All Trade after previously being in acquisition for four and a half years. So part of what I’m looking at the moment is how do I maintain the donor base that we do have whilst finding new engagement points for those audiences that we will be bringing in in the future? And I think one of the challenges is being in the charity sector. You’re so close to the cause, you understand what the impact of the donations or income you’re bringing in will have on the work that’s being done. So for us, being water, focus, annotation, hygiene, the number of people who have access to any one of those things in the future. But I think there’s that challenge of being so close to it, thinking that everyone else has the same understanding as you do, especially from like a mass audience point of view. And I think we had a bit of a boost during the the pandemic because we were relevant to the issue. Sanitation was so important in the prevention of COVID and now coming out of that where the Ukraine war, cost of living is taking up medium space and conversation, we need to break through that again. And I think as marketers or people who focus on audience facing activities within the charity sector, it’s our role to kind of show why we exist and what the impact of that is going to be and to think about how our communications do that. And people don’t be communicated with all the time and be bearish for donations over and over again. They want to see what the impact of that money they gave maybe this year, last year has done, what impact have they already had before they go on to do something else. So it’s kind of bringing those two parts together. And I think how we use storytelling content, our different channels to build that will be really important. And I also think there’s that other part of people will see us in different touch points. So whether it’s in a long form email or a social media ad, it’s how do those things connect with each other to make people feel connected to the work that they’re doing. And that’s going to be a challenge because of how cluttered the media space is and how many different pieces of commerce people get at any one time. So that’s kind of where I’m looking at it from now. And I think that’s fascinating. Particularly every headline we look at seems to talk about cost of living prices, the recessionary forces likely to impact us over the next century, five quarters or even longer. So the idea of acquisition and retention for me is really interesting and really powerful around charity. How are we bringing new supporters in? How are we making them close to the cause? But how? We also reminding and reinforcing those reasons why people signed up in the first place, to keep people close and give them the reason that it’s something worth being part of. And to the point we were talking about before that dopamine hit of giving, it’s almost pivoting, say a monthly direct debit or a cash donation or sponsoring a friend. How does that become a must have investment rather than something just to be cut out of a budget and saved? It’s also I think recognizing as the economy bites, some people won’t be able to pay. But that’s kind of okay in the sense that charities. We can stay close to people and give them purpose. Give them something that’s useful. Given something that means in their lives that makes them feel good. Even if it’s not financial. Signing a petition. Taking an action. Sharing something. Doing something on behalf of a charity. It keeps them close to charities at a time when they can give. They do. I do really like your point about not bombarding people over the head, hitting them over the head. And I think that’s personally, charities have to work. We’re not being intrusive, we’re not constantly badgering people. I think that’s a huge watch out for charities. We actually did some work on what the barriers giving was. That was one of them. People not getting a sense of hope and progress, which I don’t know if that resonates with either of you, but a sense of what’s been achieved. And actually, I think it plays with the tangibility of the money I’ve given. Does it go somewhere? Does it have a role to play? Feeling part of something is a huge barrier. If people don’t feel like they belong. That’s good, but how can you bring people in? I think that’s why things like the London Marathon are so powerful. Because a how much people can feel part of those fundraising teams would be that connection they have with their wider peer group bringing them along. That’s really interesting. I don’t get anything back when I give that’s one trend. We see the growth in what’s called valex value exchange. People getting something back when they give example would be UNICEF Paddington postcards where you subscribe and you pay a monthly amount in return, you get sent a pack every month. Where Paddington is the ultimate refugee, which is a brilliant insight on how to use that beloved character, but how that introduces children working in different country programs and what’s going on, the situation, the reality of their lives together, which become these educational packs, parent and child together. That’s a great example of getting value in return for doing something. And then the act of giving his heart, which for me Range is really got to think about how do we get through that funnel? How do we go from awareness? Maybe you’ve never even heard of attractive or you know the name, but you don’t know what they stand for. How do we take on a journey where you get an understanding of where they are you would consider giving money to? You really understand what the mission of this given charity is. That when an ask is made, I get it, I get that and I get how my money will be used. But then that you evolve that over time. I mean, you’re both charity experts, you’ve got years and years experience in charity. I’m still relatively new. I’m about four years into my time working with charities and one of the biggest surprises I got. I think it’s something for listeners to bear in mind. I think people can come into charity and there’s a real risk of people going well, in the commercial world or in the real world, this is how we do things. And you have heard it. I’ve heard a brilliant word to describe that, which is Brandonism, which is people coming in and just rather being heavy in their footsteps of what’s gone before them. And the more time you spend a charity, you realize there are so many parameters, so many things that hold the industry in check and need to be considered everything you do. But as an outside company, the biggest thing is helping with legacy. So legacy means a gift in a will. It means people when they’re right in the world. So I will give over my property or a share of my estate to a given charity. One of the biggest income streams now for charity. There’s a fantastic report charity benchmarking put out and it’s the single biggest contributory scheme. But for me that’s the ultimate expression of brand love. That’s our patchwork quilt. Everything a charity has done over the years leading up to this moment of actually, I like it so much before I check out. Here you go. I’ll leave this to you. And so from that, I’ve never heard of you to that point. That full spectrum, it’s such an interesting thing as you move through awareness, consideration, acquisition, retention, it is a fascinating funnel and it’s a really fascinating category to be in a lot of ways that you really resonate and really sits with me. So we touched on the cost of living crisis. I’ll put it to both of you. What do you see as the big threats of that? As we see people worried about fuel prices, worried about how far their money is going to go, what impact do you think that’s going to have on the charity sector? I think at the moment, the only real history we’ve got to go on is when we last went into a recession. And I think it showed then that charity giving is often the last thing to go. So when you’re considering all your outgoings charity, people stay very committed to the cause that they love and they feel very committed and have a connection too. So I think the main point for charities to consider is how do you keep driving that personal connection? And I think Water Aid and Wanda’s team are an absolute masterclass in that area of how do you form a deeper connection and an emotional resonance and keep engaging with people so they still want to commit to supporting you through this kind of very uncertain world. I think Water Aid has increased their retention rate of their supporters by 2% in the last five years, which is astonishing. And I know, Rick, you just mentioned the kind of more commercial world as well. I think Disney’s retention rate is about 78%, whereas water rate is 94%. And I guess you could argue, right, that water NGOs are in this business of genuine purpose, so they are going to have that to a certain extent. But I think it runs deeper than that. I think this water astonishing retention metric is about that connection and what elevates you from the rest and how can you keep people supporting you in deeper levels of engagement. You’re kind of creating your super fans of your cause and I think that’s really important to bear in mind as I think things are going to get increasingly tough and charities are going to feel the pressure. Wanda, what do you think? I think that is really important and that continued storytelling that comes from it, especially with the nonfinancial updates that we give. So last month during the heat wave, my team sent out an email talking about the heat wave and then talking about the impact of some of the work that was being done and how we’re counteracting climate change through our programs. And I think being able to show that consistency in our messaging as we go along will remain important. I also think especially for World Trade with where we are, not to be complacent that we will write this out because we’ve done it before, but to be thinking about what we could do to retain those supporters, especially those who might not be able to give in the same way that they’ve done previously. So part of it is who within our orders, they can keep going in terms of like the regular gifts that we’ve got and then for those who might consider changing or adapting, lowering whatever it is, how do we keep them engaged and valued as part of the program and to add those into our commerce plan. So I think it’s partly diversifying our approach to that retention and thinking about the external factors and how that might impact our audiences, especially the next. However long the recession and cost of living crisis last, we want them to come out of there and go wall trade kept me connected with what they were doing and the work and the impact I’ve had not just now but previously. So that when they’re in that position to do a bit more, who do you want to give to more trade still to want give to or adding in some of our more of our influencing work, whether it’s campaigning or other areas where they can contribute and feel valued and connected to the cause at the same time. So yeah, I think there’s definitely a bit of work to be done, not just water, but the charity as a whole to make sure we come out stronger at the end of this. And I think that consistency within our messaging, whether it’s a long form piece of content or something like a social video, is doing that work to build the brand love, even if we know we’re going to have some rough patches along the way. No, it’s fantastic. I think that’s a really good summation of the situation. Thank you for that. What I loved about that point towards the idea of consistency and the idea of organizations, different departments working together to keep that closeness, to keep that engagement. It’s about businesses removing silos, thinking about how they can influence engagement, thinking about collaboration. I think. Again. Not to be sick of the tickets have seen it or aid I’ve seen at other charities. Disability where it’s different divisions working together well. Like you say. Legacy like you say and the retention team. The campaigning teams collaborating in a way that people have a purpose and it’s not necessarily that give me that pound in your wallet. It’s sense of give us your ear. Give us your help. Use your influence. Use your peer group. I mean, those are really interesting conversations to have, I think for anybody listening who isn’t in charity in a commercial brand, I think it’s a really fascinating parallel idea of how do you remain close to an audience how do you engage them? How do you stay relevant in their lives? I think it’s a category that’s full of that the benefit charity has is you don’t have to travel the same distance. We always go back to the fantastic work of lesbiant Peterfield, the 60 40 year old along on the short of it and actually in one of their later cuts data sets they pull out for charities that split is actually 43% on brand building. Brand building in terms of longer term effects, six months and beyond three years. The things that make people top of mind bring people close to around to the shorter being 57%. The idea being charities don’t have to travel as far to pull on the heartstrings but actually to sign post and get people over the line. Given the amount of charities making very compelling reasons why should give their money, that acquisition part becomes a huge thing. And I think for me going into the cost of living as I say, how we do that engagement that we are balancing getting the right lens as long and short of brand building and activation. Activation to get the lights on, the classic you don’t ask, you don’t get. But brand building just having intelligence to recognize if people can’t get right now doesn’t mean that they’re dead to you. There’s a relationship, there something to move forward. So that really resonates very well. We talked a lot there about the threats or about the opportunities. What excites you about charity? Where do you think we could go next? I think there’s lots of exciting things coming up and opportunity. I think there’s that connection with talking about internal connections with different teams is like one of those connections or corporate partners that we could be using to develop messaging in different audiences and areas or the high value audiences. I also think because we’re in that space where representation and audiences and how we look at them is changing significantly, that creates a whole new pool of people that don’t think the charity sector has yet engaged with that we could be engaging with. So from our audience segmentations are there people who haven’t connected with water aid yet but could be potential opening to different demographics and what might we engage or get from them? And I also think being in this current environment where we’ve had consistency in the way we’ve done things, our programs have kind of run in a really structured way that has been efficient and strong is we need to be more innovative. So if you put in a pressure cooker of like right, we have to do something different, you have to do it now. What could come up from teams, what opportunities could come from there? What different ideas and technology could be using? So I’m quite interested in marketing technology and being able to analyze and use that data to then build content and creative that works collectively together. So I think there’s lots of opportunity coming. I think it’s just being able to know that everyone’s going through the recession or the cost of living crisis but it will be those who are brave enough to try new things and build on what’s already been there that will come out, I think, stronger than others. Oh fantastic. Recently from Harvard Business Review from Professor Mark Richardson, both those sources talking about this need that if you can balance that long and short investment but they talk about a part of that long investment being R amp D and having being able to make the business case to make the investment in building that knowledge. If you’re not coming from a standing start at the end of the recessionary period that you can learn through it, you leave the recession period as strong as you can be. I love the idea of having the bravery to look for the next thing, looking for that innovation, looking for those new things that’s really interesting and very exciting. Charlie, any reflections, your side? I think one of the most fascinating points for me is that we’re seeing this decline in trust, especially in our government and especially in new sources and I think charities have a chance to fill gaps left by these less trusted institutions. So how can charities become a credible news source and have something really relevant and time. Would you say. And use be a trusted voice when other in this infodemic and all the places of mistrust on the internet. Like how can charities use that to have timely. Relevant conversations and give their supporters a place to go and connect with people and know that the content charities are putting out is a place they can trust and build engagement that way I think. Would be really interesting. Yeah, I love that. I think chat is a really interesting space to play, which is you talked about that mistrust and people reading bad sources of data and people getting lost in just a morass of what’s out there. I like the idea of being that’s what I like. Slow news that trusted. That considered that almost unarguable point if you can and appealing to that common sense because that’s the other thing about charities. There’s something that can unite people might have differing political views or different views where they are in the world. But there’s a common ground sense of what we must collaborate on and there’s multiple different areas of charity that can work for that. So I love that, I love the idea of trust and being almost a force for good and change both for the people the charity is helping, but for society as a whole I think that’s a really interesting space to play and television is still the most trusted form of advertising in the UK and it’s such a massive part of a charity’s channel mix. I think that’s worth considering as well because it’s so regulated that’s an interesting point for charities to consider as well. Yeah, but again, it speaks to the gamut of donors from the young to the old. There’s a classic profile of a charity give. It tends to be older. Maybe there’s a heritage of religious sense of duty, a sense of need to give, and we certainly see that in some of the older segments. But what are the younger segments doing? Yes, there’s media fragmentation, there’s more digitization of channels, which is why don’t you talk about tech innovation? That’s really interesting. I think in the very first episode of a Model, we talked about IPA making sense for on the fragmentation digital. Since the Pandemic, we’ve seen the adoption of a more analog channel mix for a 55 plus audience. We’ve seen a greater propensity of digital platforms, types of media on tablets, PCs, mobile, those sort of handsets through for the younger audience. And it’s about how we’re using channels in concert to infuse that trust through all stages of life, but also being respectful of where people are. If you’ve just had kids, you’ve got your mortgage over your head to type for cash. The audience we’re seeing who are most nervous about the cost of living crisis, what’s the answer for them, what are the relevances for them, which if they can’t give in money, they can give in time or action? If you’re a young audience and you’re a bit cash strapped, but you’re the strongest use of social media, you’ve got the most active voice, how can we harness that and tap into the worldview you want to see? Likewise, if you’re a resilient audience who’s been able to say to the Pandemic, who’s fortunate to be in a position where the cost of living is nibbling but not biting, shall we say, but what can we do there to make the payment there while the one that gets given to our charity? So it’s a huge spectrum of different people we can talk to different channels to connect, but using trusted sources like you say things like TV to stand out and really be something that people buy into. That’s a very good point. So I’ve really enjoyed this chat and I’m sure listeners will get a sense this could go on for a time, but if we would so bring it home. If I look through the notes. I’ve been furiously screwed. We’ve been chatting. I get a sense of I think the threat for charities is the cost of living crisis and the need to stay relevant and engaged and the need to understand the nuance of what you’re asking people to do at this time and understanding there is a financial side and non financial side in terms of opportunities. You made the really good point about the opportunities around innovation and new learnings and new tests you can trial to bring in. Is it marketing, technology, how we talk to people? Is it the offers, is it that the products we put in front of people, of how they might choose to give is really good. Charlie, you made the point about huge opportunity, about building trust and becoming a trusted voice in the world and being credible, relevant, timely, and I think those are really interesting qualities for a charity to have. So I would say, do you both feel optimistic about the future charity? Do you feel optimistic about the road ahead? I’d say yes, I think so. I work in the sector and I feel very committed to the trade and work we do, so I think so. And I think if we focus on that connection and trust with our audiences, supporters, whether they’re already engaged or future ones, then there is a strong potential for charity sector as a whole. And I guess what Charlie said is like being that trusted voice in this space where it’s so cluttered and noisy that we could be that consistent base for them. Yeah, I agree. I feel so positive. I think that charities in the UK have shown that they can lose trust and they can regain trust, and I think things really surprise us, people’s generosity and willing to give in covet because there was this tangible reason showing time and time again that people are there for each other. And charity is such a fundamental part of our every day, even though we may not be having an International Day of Charity every day, it’s like in our bones, right? So I feel very positive and I think there is definitely a chance for charities to do more of this two way conversation that Waltrade does well. Don’t just put out content and ask people to give back. I think you can create this personal relationship and think about what’s going on in people’s lives and have this conversation that drives connection across all your different channels and all your different touch points and where you’re reaching people, indigenous people’s lives. So, yeah, I feel very positive that there’s so much relevant conversation that charities in the UK can be dialing into and forming those connections. Fantastic. So, in summary then, I think there’s a lot of optimism as we enter this international jay of Charity 2022. I’ve really enjoyed this chat. Thank you both. Charlie, thank you for your time today. Really fun chat, I hope you enjoyed it too. Listeners, don’t forget, the Model podcast is on all the platforms. You would hope to find it. Please go back. Lots of great episodes that have gone before, but today you’ve been listening to Charlie Day, strategy Director at the Kite Factory, wanchi and Bari, cairo supporter exploration and influencing lead of water aid and I’ve been riddled managing part of the strategy happy International Day of Charity and will speech against it. All the best.