News & Views

Oxfam / Charity and Transparency

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Anti-poverty charity releases an app promising greater transparency and giving more control to its supporters

Oxfam has created an app to give people more control over how much they donate and more information about the causes they’re supporting.

The app is called My Oxfam and was created by Hi Mum! Said Dad, London. It allows users to increase or decrease their monthly donation to the anti-poverty charity, and provides live updates from Oxfam staff working in crises-hit areas.

Paul Vanags, Oxfam’s head of public fundraising, was quoted as saying the app was a response to the public’s demand for more control over their giving and greater transparency from charities.

‘Charities are striving to meet the public’s demand for a closer, more modern and responsive relationship with the charities they support,’ said Vanags. ‘Oxfam’s personalised app is another step towards that.’

‘My Oxfam provides a window into the lives changed by our supporters’ generosity and allows users to control their giving from the palm of their hand. The app gives them complete control of their support anytime anywhere and allows them to experience the impact of their generosity.’

In 2016, a Charity Commission census found that that public trust in charities in England and Wales had dropped to its lowest level since 2005, when monitoring began. Charities’ trust rating fell from 67% to 57%, according to the census. The drop was partly due to negative news stories coming out of the sector, such as the collapse of Kid’s Company and the suicide of Olive Cook, who had been receiving thousands of direct mail pleas from charities at the time she took her life.

That said, the Guardian reports that Oxfam posted an impressive rise in sales in November and December 2016, following increased demand for second-hand clothes and ethical goods.

My Oxfam is available on iOS and Android platforms. The app’s features include video diaries, image galleries and news from the charity’s staff who are working to alleviate humanitarian crises. Users can follow Oxfam’s work in real time and continue to receive updates on aid operations even after the initial response has finished.

As well as controls that allow users to adjust their monthly donation and make one-off gift payments, an online shop tracks how much each user has given and through what channels – it even alerts them when an item they have donated to the charity is sold.


Contagious Insight / 

Staying in touch / Even before you consider the issues of trust and transparency facing charities, Oxfam’s app makes sense. Relying on direct mail to keep supporters informed of the difference they are making, and to prompt for more donations, is slower and likely more expensive. More than that, the My Oxfam app enables new and engaging features like videos and real-time updates.

One potential drawback is that the app format will put people off. A US study by Nomura from 2016 that showed a 20% year-on-year drop in downloads had some declaring that the app boom was over. People are downloading fewer apps and a small number of apps make up the majority of those being downloaded. If this is the environment, its likely only the most engaged supporters of Oxfam would download this app.

A charity with clarity / The drive to be more transparent and give more control to supporters chimes with a wider challenge facing brands across numerous sectors.

The 2016 Food Revolution Study showed 94% of consumers considered transparency important to their purchase decisions, for instance.

Meanwhile, Rachel Saunders, a director at The Cassandra Report told Contagious that her research had showed young people were fatigued with brands talking about purpose and how they plan to improve the world. ‘Instead, they’re gravitating towards brands that save them time and energy by being transparent upfront,’ she said. ‘Transparency feels more genuine and less likely to be a pure marketing tactic, and thus is a more relevant way to earn their trust.’


This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. I/O helps anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they're doing it and with what success.

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