How much do charities spend on comms? Study reveals budgets and staffing levels

The UK's largest charities spend, on average, more than £700,000 on comms per year - on top of the salaries earned by their increasingly large teams.

This is according to the new Communications Benchmark 2017 from the charity sector PR group CharityComm, which surveyed comms pros from 273 charities. Previous reports were carried out in 2008 and 2012.

The 2008 report found the average size of a charity's comms team was six. In 2012 it was seven, and for 2017 it is eight. Team sizes vary significantly by charity size - organisations whose income exceeds £30m have an average team of 18.

A similar pattern is seen when respondents supplied estimated or actual budgets, outside of comms team salaries.

The Benchmark finds an increased number of comms professionals feeling appreciated: 85 per cent of respondents said their CEO values comms, up from 68 per cent in 2008 and 79 per cent in 2012. In addition, 59 per cent said their organisation as a whole respects comms. This is also an increase - from 53 per cent in 2012 and 51 per cent in 2008.

However, while charity comms pros report strengthening relations with the CEO, they are less likely to have the ear of their organisations' trustee board - the unpaid non-executives who set the charity's strategy and direction. Only 55 per cent of those surveyed agreed that trustees understand the value of comms, and just 40 per cent said the trustee board included people with comms experience.

Only 49 per cent of respondents said they thought their organisation had a strong brand - and just 41 per cent said their comms were "planned and delivered with an integrated approach across my organisation".

Adeela Warley, the new CEO of CharityComms, said of the report: "Unlike the corporate sector, where PR is primarily driven by sales, for charities it’s a key way of delivering our mission. It helps raise awareness of our cause, inform people as part of the service we provide to beneficiaries and persuade influencers such as the media and government to effect positive change.

"Charity communications isn’t just about telling people about the change we make, it’s about making change happen. Our survey shows that more charities are recognising the strategic role of communications and are investing in it to help improve life for millions of people."

In addition, the Benchmark found that 48 per cent of charity CEOs were on Twitter, according to their comms' teams - up from 32 per cent in 2012. The question was not asked in 2008 - Twitter was created in 2006.

It also found that many charity chiefs dedicate more than an hour and a half to comms matters per week - a figure that is lowest at the smallest and largest charities.

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