‘Are you local?’ 4 insights from research

‘Local’ is a huge word for fundraisers today. I see evidence of this almost everywhere I look at the moment.

In recent research I ran for new product development for ace cancer charity Maggie’s, localism was the burning issue. Supporting local causes was, for most of the participants, an unassailable priority and, in some cases, a filter for whether to support at all. ‘If it doesn’t say Oxford on the outer envelope, it goes straight in the bin.’

The chart below shows the part locality plays, along with perception of size and who the cause affects, in how participants priortise the charities they support.

So why is this? From my investigations, I think the supporting public’s perception of localised causes and their subsequent prioritisation can be boiled down to the following:

  1. Trust and tangibility. ‘I know where the money goes, I can see the impact and those involved. I feel like less money is wasted on advertising and admin.’
  2. Need. ‘Without local support, my local charity and services could not exist.’
  3. Charity begins at home. ‘In hard times, we have to look after our own first.’
  4. Community and belonging. ‘Supporting my local charity or being part of a fundraising group gives me a sense of belonging, being a part of my community. And in this uncertain global age, real connections with the people near me is comforting.’

The challenge for charities today is to figure our how to use this trend appropriately for their organisation. I believe that whoever you are, there is room to apply this trend to your activity. If your charity has local services, the task is simple. Clarify the local impact and emphasise this to those in that region, both in your asking and in your thanking and feedback.

But if you’re a big charity that does all your work in far away places, you can still capitalise by acting on point 4 of my list above. You can create and emphasise a sense of belonging to a local community of like-minded people, people who share a common worldview. And today’s social and location-based technologies and our mass adoption of networking online gives us the ability to foster a sense of community like never before.

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