Charity Watch: Royal British Legion hit by negative headlines

September 02, 2016, 9:04 AM GMT+0

In August, the Royal British Legion hit the headlines for controversial reasons.

It was revealed that several of the charity’s county and local women’s section branches have dissolved their organisation in protest at the Legion’s proposal to merge the women’s section into the main body of the charity.

Some have gone so far as to describe the largely male board of trustees as ‘dictatorial’ and ‘pre suffragette’ and they are accused of failing to consult the women’s branches adequately.

Ahead of the annual autumn push for donations in the lead up to Remembrance Day, how has this story impacted those who may went to donate to the Royal British Legion?

YouGov CharityIndex data shows that the story has been picked up by the public. The Legion’s Buzz score (which measures whether a respondent has heard something positive or negative about the charity in the last fortnight) has fallen to its lowest point since YouGov began to track the charity. It currently stands at -1, the first time its score has been negative.

The decline has also been steeper among those that say that they are likely to donate to charity within the next three months. This measure has fallen six points since the beginning of August.

However, there’s evidence of a longer term decline in the Royal British Legion’s public perception. Among those likely to donate to charity, its Reputation score (which asks respondents whether they would be proud to work for an organisation) is notably lower than it was in May. Its current score is +20, compared to +32 three months ago.

This data suggest that the charity needs to react in a more comprehensive way to ensure the controversy does not become a stain on its public perception in the long term. In its favour, the Royal British Legion has the benefit of having a long and strong history, and the coming months are when it traditionally comes to prominence.

In all likelihood, the controversy won’t be considered by poppy wearers in November. However, the event does show the pitfalls charities face when they look to realign the organisation.

Image PA

This article originally appeared in ThirdSector Magazine

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