Charities defy MPs by vowing to maintain spending on campaigning

Major charities have vowed to maintain high spending on campaigning, despite criticism by MPs.

House of cards: Shelter has financed big TV ad campaigns
House of cards: Shelter has financed big TV ad campaigns

The Commons public administration select committee is expected to report that charities spend too much on campaigning compared with basic service delivery, when it publishes a report on the issue next month.

At an inquiry held by the committee on 18 January, Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, said he believed charities such as Shelter and the NSPCC spent too much on PR and marketing. Sources close to the committee suggested this viewpoint would be reflected in its forthcoming report, which will advise the Government on its green paper on charitable causes.

Shelter director of campaigns, policy and comms Kay Boycott responded that her organisation’s campaigning and comms spend would remain broadly in line with the last financial year, although more would be used for social media campaigns.

‘Campaigning exists as a tool to fight for change and help prevent a crisis from occurring,’ said Boycott. ‘By preventing a crisis, it is more cost-effective and less traumatic than having to provide services to people once a situation has arisen.’

Other charities voiced similar intentions. Macmillan Cancer Support director of external affairs Hilary Cross said: ‘Advertising and campaigning are fundamental in helping us achieve our
ambition of reaching everyone affected by cancer.’

Plan UK director of comms Leigh Daynes said he was plan- ning to maintain spending – about £2m – on direct marketing to attract new donors, with an integrated comms campaign that will lead with digital, supported by PR. It could also feature advertising.

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