Journalists are important influencers on public opinion. Their opinion on the work of charities matters. This week’s blog looks into the favourite causes of journalists, and how they differ from other key audiences – MPs and the public.
Favourite charitable causes of journalists, the general public and MPs – top 13
When you think about your favourite charities, which category do they fall into?” Ranked by Journalists / “Please list up to four charities, voluntary organisations or pressure groups that have impressed you and why.”
Source: Charity Parliamentary Monitor, Jun-Aug 2018, nfpSynergy | Base: 151 MPs / Source: Charity Sector Monitor, Apr 18, nfpSynergy | Base: 1,000 adults 16+, Britain / Source: Journalists' Attitudes and Awareness Monitor, Oct/Nov 2018, nfpSynergy | Base: 161 journalists
Children and young people are the most favoured cause for journalists
64% of journalists say that their favourite charities are in the children and young people sector. This makes the sector the most favoured among journalists. Children and young people are also very close to MPs’ hearts, sitting only second behind cancer in their favourite causes.
Children are also a popular cause with the public, though we have seen decreases in recent years in this warmth. According to our recent Child's Play report only 25% (in comparison to 33% less than a year ago) of the public put children’s charities among their most favoured. The popularity of charities working with children and young people among journalists is a positive story in the face of these downward trends.
Cancer is a favourite cause across the board
Charities working with cancer are very popular with all three audiences. This is a very impressive result for cancer charities, with successful engagement across journalists, MPs and the public.
Armed Forces charities are a favourite for MPs, though not so much for journalists and the public
MPs love Armed Forces charities, though when you break this down by party, we see that Armed Forces are a favourite cause for 56% of Conservative MPs and 12% of Labour MPs. The public and journalists do not share this affection. Armed Forces charities are 11th in the list of causes for journalists. Is this because with an Armed Forces that is decreasing in size and no current conflicts, there are fewer stories for journalists to cover?
Local and national journalists have different favourite causes
When we break the data by journalists who cover local/regional stories, and those who cover national or international stories, we see that their favourite causes differ. Local journalists are more interested in rescue services (32% vs 19% total) and hospices (45% vs 30%), whereas national journalists are much less interested in these causes. Journalists who cover more international stories are far more likely to be interested in the environment and conservation.
Why are journalists higher across the board?
The data shows quite starkly that journalists are more likely to have more favourite causes than MPs and the public. The data shows that on average, journalists were likely to select 5 favourite causes, MPs 4 and the public only 3. What is driving this? We know that if you have a higher income and are university educated, you are more likely to engage with charities - these differences will account for some of the variation in opinion and attitudes between these groups. Journalists may also be conflating personal with professional. The journalists we survey have covered a charity story in the last 6 months, so they are more likely to have worked with charities, and to some extent are likely to be reliant on charities for stories and inspiration in their roles. This could perhaps be driving a more favourable outlook towards multiple charity sectors.
Journalists, MPs and the public are crucial audiences for many charities. This simple favourite cause question helps to place how your charity is performing into context. Using this information can help you assess which groups are already warm or less warm to you. This data can also reaffirm a charities success with these audiences, for example if animal charities are more focused on the general public than these other two audiences then the data indicates they are being successful.