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Telling a better story about charities

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The charity narrative

We worked to create a new narrative about charities, testing different ideas with the public. This helped us to identify themes that resonate with both charity supporters and the wider public.

The narrative is about the charity sector as a whole, rather than individual organisations. You should hear it reflected when representative bodies such as NCVO, ACEVO or the Institute of Fundraising talk about the sector. It won’t work straight out of the box for every organisation, but you can draw on the themes in your messaging.

What is a narrative?

A narrative sets out a story you want to tell – about yourself or about an issue. Although exact language and messaging will vary, an agreed narrative provides clarity and consistency across all external communications – from press releases and web copy, to meetings with stakeholders or social media content, ensuring that everyone is speaking from the same page.

Themes that resonate with the public

The research identified core themes that resonated and worked to create a positive view of the sector.

Because of you

It’s vital to communicate that charities recognise the central role that the public play, and that they are able to do what they do because of the support of their donors and the wider public. The phrase – ‘because of you’ performed strongly across all of the focus groups conducted as part of this project

Confidence and reassurance

Both the wider public and charity supporters need to feel reassured that charities are listening to their concerns, and confident that action is being taken by charities to address them.

It’s not just about the money

Focus group participants reacted strongly against any sense that giving to charity is only about money – underlined in part by their own dislike of persistent requests for donations. It’s important to reference the variety of ways in which people can support you so they can see that you value other forms of support, such as giving time.


Talking about, and ideally evidencing, the impact charities have is vital to countering doubts that donations are making a difference. 

Key messages

This is the story we want to tell about charities today.

Because of you, charities in the UK are making a difference to millions of lives in our country and across the world. They play a vital role in our society – and we all benefit.

  • Because of you
  • Impact


Every contribution, however big or small, matters. Whether volunteering, donating goods or money, sponsoring a friend in a marathon, attending a fundraising event, or spreading the word, charities harness people’s individual goodwill and combine it with the professional expertise and vision of others to create the biggest possible impact. Together, it all adds up to a lot of change.

  • It’s not just about the money
  • Impact


Charities want to make sure that their supporters and the wider public have complete confidence in what they do, because ultimately they exist to serve you.

  • Confidence and reassurance

That means being transparent about how donations are being spent and the impact they have made, responding to people’s concerns and operating to the highest standards.

  • Confidence and reassurance

Charities, and all that they achieve, only exist thanks to their supporters and the wider public.

  • Because of you

Charities only make the difference they do, because of you.

  • Because of you
Page last edited Sep 11, 2017

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