07 Mar 2023 / in UK Blog / by Alex Alsworth

There are more than 160,000 charity organisations in the UK, so navigating the sector can provide a challenge for both those operating within it and any external organisation with a vested interest. Communication, naturally, is vital in the third sector. We know that every charity has a specific mission and purpose, with a unique voice that needs to cut through media noise and get its message across clearly and concisely – be it to its stakeholders, the public or government policymakers.

Plus, fundraising in the face of highly emotive subjects or circumstances means charity PR and comms teams need to constantly be alert and react quickly to respond to the news cycle. The war in Ukraine at the start of 2022 is a key example.

Carsten Fishel, Head of Govt. & NFP at Cision, explains that the British Red Cross and UNHCR’s speed of response was vital in terms of fundraising and political influence regarding Ukraine. “As soon as the first missile was fired those two charities sprang into action,” he says. “Not just on the ground helping the Ukrainian people get out of harms way but also starting a massive campaign to raise money and donations to the countries bordering Ukraine. British Red Cross was central in convincing the UK government to allow Ukrainians to come to the UK, enabling them to work and support themselves here from day one.”

What is the Cision Charity Barometer?

For those charity professionals looking for an essential tool that covers the sector, the recently relaunched Cision Charity Barometer provides a detailed, in-depth resource. Produced monthly by the Cision Insights team, the report focuses on the top 100 organisations in the third sector, examining their comms footprint across traditional and social media.

If a charity wants to know the primary stories within the charity world (or their specific area) the barometer has the answers. It also allows charities to judge themselves against their peers, making it an essential report for any third sector organisation that takes its comms responsibility seriously.

Cision Charity Barometer

Volume rankings for UK charities in January 2023

The report explores a wide range of charity organisations against a consistent methodology and reading list, allowing for comparisons between organisations, charity segments, and over time. It provides a regular overview of the media landscape and can be used by our customers to supplement their existing monitoring or analysis with us.

As a result, the Charity Barometer is a cost-effective way for organisations to look at the broader sector trends without commissioning bespoke and costly benchmarking research for themselves.

The report has recently undergone a design and content overhaul, integrating new features to paint a fuller picture of the third sector landscape. Powered by Cision Communications Cloud, it now brings in a wider pool of online outlets and greater flexibility over organisations and search terms. This allows the opportunity for different metrics such as social amplification to be integrated. Some other new features include the integration of Global Web Index audience insights, and a new Arts & Culture section exploring the coverage around these organisations.

The report’s assessment of organisations uses a consistent criteria, reading list and methodology, meaning accurate comparisons will always be made between organisations.

Understanding Audience in the Third Sector

The Charity Barometer also provides vital information on the kind of audience groups that are more likely to advocate for charities, which can help steer comms pros on the type of messaging and content they produce. For instance, one UK audience more open to more charitable causes than most are Baby Boomers.

As a group they are one of the more expectant of organisations. Reliability is by far the key expectation, with 88% of Baby Boomers surveyed (via GWI) wanting this trait. Charities who can promote and remind people of the reliable and consistent support they offer could garner strong favour with this audience.

The Charity Barometer can also act as an aid for third sector organisations to navigate away from common comms mistakes. “There are some charities that still focus on volumes and, in some instances, AVE,” says Fishel. “They do not all realise that what appears in the media can also make it onto the consciousness of very important people, such as CEOs or cabinet ministers.

Cision Charity Barometer

Mainstream and social media coverage of humanitarian and emergency charities from the January 2023 Cision Charity Barometer

Every comms team, including charities, can minimise risk if they have a robust evaluation process. They should start with setting relevant, smart communication KPIs which reflect the organisations wider goals. What messages are you trying to get across? Which media and audiences are you trying to reach? What impact are you trying to have?

Measuring the success of targets like these, having asked the right questions, means the information can be used to both evaluate the impact of comms work and feed into the planning of future campaigns and targets. Benchmarking work, like this barometer report, helps add crucial context.

Backed with in-depth data, visuals and expert insight, the Cision Charity Barometer tells a complete story for the sector every month. If you’re in, or work with, the third sector and would like to learn more about the report, reach out and speak to one of our experts today.

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About Alex Alsworth

Alex Alsworth is the UK Insights Sector Lead for Government, Not for Profit and Finance, with five years of earned media analysis experience with Cision and a further seven of market research account management.

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