Choice Survey on Donations and Charities

I took part in the recent Choice Survey on Donations and Charities and was interested, maybe concerned a little, that the survey questions went onto ask whether the reader would consider making donations to Choice at some point. I am interested to canvass other members views and ask Choice what was their reasoning for these particular questions?

11 Likes

It did take me by surprise too, as I don’t see the connection between donations to charities and donations to an organisation such as Choice.
The questions jumped from giving to charities to giving to choice.
I don’t see Choice as a charity.
(I will qualify my comment by saying that I love Choice very much).

8 Likes

Only Choice can answer the question.

Maybe Choice is considering splitting off a charitable, non-profit function.

6 Likes

Fair enough, no harm sounding out
opinions. But this was a survey on donations and charities, in which Choice has no part yet, if I’m not mistaken.

5 Likes

Hi Paul, Gabby and Community,

Thanks for getting in touch about this - it’s really good to hear your thoughts.

By way of introduction: my name is Jess, and I work on our advocacy campaigns at CHOICE. I know many of you have taken dozens (even hundreds!) of campaign actions on issues over the years, on issues like banking reform, health star ratings and private health insurance - so thank you.

CHOICE is soon turning 60 years old. Right from the beginning, we’ve been a non-for-profit, consumer advocate. This means we’re independent and rely on people paying a small annual or quarterly membership to help us do our work.

From time-to-time we’ve asked for donations too, mostly to support our advocacy work directly. You might remember our campaign to put an end to fake free range eggs back in 2016. More than 866 individuals donated over $26,000 put up a Billboard on this issue, right across from the Assistant Treasurer’s office. As of 2018, we’ve

This survey on donations is our first attempt to understand what sorts of causes CHOICE members currently support and their attitudes towards donating to CHOICE, to help us decide whether these kinds of ideas are worth pursuing in the future.

Some members and supporters have indicated an interesting donating to CHOICE, which is really interesting - but I’m just as interested in those who feel differently.

Edit** survey is now closed so link removed.

13 Likes

Choice (Australian Consumers’ Association Ltd) is a not-for-profit. I have been aware of bequests made to them to continue their independence and advocacy.

I am also a member of a national Not-for-Profit Ltd company and this can be confusing for people who equate the Ltd with profit making. The advantage for the NFP in the Company model is greater oversight and national presence. The alternative is setting up a NFP incorporated in one State or Territory.

Choice does not sell advertising in their magazines or take sponsorship from business to avoid losing their independence. If they are anything like the other organisations I belong to, their paid subscriptions to the magazine would be falling and the take up of paid on-line subscriptions diminishing too.

10 Likes

I’m sorry if I haven’t made it clear:
it’s not the donation part that has made me feel uneasy, but the way the sounding out was made.

From Choice I would expect honest upfront presenting of a problem, and clear questions on how we, the members, would feel about a possible solution.

Instead the survey asked about which charities we donated to, wanting names, and also, how much we gave.

Possibly a separate survey could be made about donations to Choice?

10 Likes

Hi Gaby,

Thanks for clarifying, and I see your point. I’ll revisit the survey design and see what we can do to make things clearer. Appreciate the feedback!

8 Likes

Good. I’ll hold off responding to this survey, until I receive another email with the updated version.

2 Likes

I think the reasons why people donate can impact how another NFP might “market” their donation seeking. Are there some similarities that CHOICE could leverage to get better income streams to help further their work. If they know the reasons they can plan the action they take.

Having not seen that particular survey I can only suggest that perhaps CHOICE outlines at the beginning why they seek this other information and allow survey takers to provide information based on that knowledge and giving them the ability to reduce the level of response or to decline to respond to a question or questions if it seems too intrusive. Can or will all the responses be de-identified and/or can the survey taker opt out of providing identifying data (mind you most data can be used to identity someone if sufficient detail is supplied in the answers).

4 Likes

I completed it yesterday despite being somewhat intrigued by the underlying content and not being totally clear in regard to the overall theme of the survey.

At least I can trust Choice at a vastly higher level than the spruikers touting for donations in the shopping centres, of which little of which ever actually reaches the front line.

7 Likes

Thanks for the link. It’s a great opportunity.

I worked through the survey. It seemed a little different from some of the feedback. Perhaps because we favour more direct support than simple donations these days it skipped certain questions?

That is also the basis of my feedback.
Given the option I’d prefer to have the opportunity to more directly support particular projects or initiatives. Either through a sponsorship or support in kind than a more general donation.

It is not that Choice is wasteful or lacking in value. We have become more selective in what we support now we are both well into our second half century and not working. Having the opportunity to see our enthusiasm and energy and support go to a particular outcome can be very rewarding, knowing that you helped. Of course that is not for everyone. And larger projects would need the direct support of many.

The benefit more personally is in being able to encourage Choice to do more in an area that has a more direct impact on our consumer issues as distinct to the wide community.

Politely Choice needs to engage with a wide membership base. It gets the best return from it’s limited resource by focusing on consumer issues that are common to many. However there are quite significant consumer needs that relate to smaller portions of the community. Under ordinary circumstances we are left to fend for ourselves because the needs may only relate to 20%, or 10% or even just 5% of the community.

The 11%, or 10% or 9% of consumers in the NBN Satellite and Fixed Wireless footprint is one example. The NBN keeps shrinking this number. Another 10% of the total number of premises, are on the outer edges of the fixed line FTTN service areas. The NBN Co and government appear to be doing their best to discount or disappear these customers from the public discussion by speaking about how good it is for everyone else. How much effort and resource would Choice be able to focus on any one part of these lesser served consumers from ordinary funding?

The same can be said for those consumers off the grid in varying ways. We live with tank water and a 25 year old septic system because we have no services. While good in one way, what chance Choice will review residential water treatment and waste water treatment. Both are big expenditure items. There are varying assessments of how many households are in similar circumstances. I’ve read less than one in ten up to one in six do not have a reticulated sewage connection? One member of our local landcare group recently needed to replace their old system. Council now will only accept active treatment plants. There are various suppliers all sold by snake oil vendors. Theirs cost over $18,000 installed and approved. How can the minority of Choice members who maintain their own systems influence Choice to also service their needs which are very different to those of the average concrete tree dweller of greater Sydney and Melbourne? No offence if you are one, we’ve been there and respect those who have that need or made that choice. Sydney or Melbourne or … are great places to live, especially if you can find that special place on the harbour or looking out over the bay or…

My feelings are sometimes towards a less preferred option to start a rival Rural Choice organisation. While Choice has always been responsible and considerate it seems Choice is firmly wedded to it’s broader base. It is also the attitude of most manufacturers and retailers.

I’d greatly appreciate a national regulation requiring all cleaning products to have a large symbol to say, not recommended for septic and grey water systems. We get clear warnings on food products re ‘may contain nuts’. I suspect the septic labelling need affects just as many if not more consumers. So on some issues I suspect around one in ten Choice Members should feel they are being left out or behind, because their greater priorities are not always those of the rest of the nations consumers. I suspect the issue of a lack of easy access to services and greater consumer choice affects more than one in ten.

But that is only something a targeted survey asking about the topics more important to regional and rural and remote Australia is likely to establish.

7 Likes

I did the Survey, and I agree with others that I was a little surprised by the turn the survey took, from asking about donations to charities, to donations to Choice. If Choice is looking to increase its revenue, it should be canvassing members about alternative sources of revenue, not just donations, for instance increasing subscriber numbers. Other sources of revenue include donations to particular campaigns, increasing subscription levels, etc. That would be a much better Survey, if finding out what members think about Choice funding levels is the real objective.
PS I’ve been a member for 55 years, since 1964, so obviously I like Choice (or ACA as it used toi be called)

13 Likes

I agree. I felt it was a come on to donate to Choice. I love Choice but didn’t like the way it was done.

6 Likes

Having now taken the Survey, and with prior knowledge of the way the questions were going to run, I was happy to complete it. It enabled me in many spots to add my opinion to the answers and more importantly at the end allowed me to give a more complete reasoning to why I answered some of the questions the way I did.

CHOICE has properly to ask why it’s membership and non members might want to donate to CHOICE, without asking there can be no certainty. As I expressed in an earlier post knowing why people donate to others and to whom they donate will help understand what motivates donators to give as they do. So having the prior knowledge helped me understand better the survey and perhaps this should have been more prominently and clearly expressed at the beginning of the survey for those who were not aware before responding. In so doing it may have helped elicit more information and resulted in less angst as it appears to have created.

CHOICE obviously faces larger costs as times roll on. The membership numbers stated during the survey ie “Because of more than 170,000 Australians”, it would seem that to carry out the aims of the organisation that membership alone is not really sufficient to pursue all their desires (roughly $16 million income a year). Cost of running CHOICE at just the plant, building, insurances, and personnel level would eat a lot of that. Then to include campaigns, membership support, to buy goods for testing (and the every increasing variety of goods), to put some aside for emergencies among a list of other costs must put a huge strain on the financial resources (even if to date they have prudently managed this).

Broadly put and not meant as criticism…If you fund to buy peanuts expect to only receive peanuts, if you fund to buy gold you should get gold but don’t expect gold on a budget for peanuts. CHOICE needs to somehow increase the funds they can get. Finding out how people feel about sourcing and why they currently do it is therefore important and relevant.

8 Likes

I was likewise surprised by the change in questioning midway through the survey. The survey title and description could have been better presented as it appeared that Choice was undertaking a covert survey for their own purposes.

5 Likes

The survey was for their own purposes but could have been more clear at the outset. Certainly after the other donations question sections it was pretty obvious that CHOICE again came back to their interests in this regard and at the Start of the Survey it was maybe not so clear but hinted to me rather strongly it was about what we wanted of CHOICE:

First page:

Then other donations first page:

Then the page back to CHOICE questions:

"Thank you for your answers so far.

We’re nearing the end of the survey and would like to come back to some questions about CHOICE.

How likely would you be to consider making a donation to CHOICE if asked?

Extremely likely
Likely
Unlikely
Not likely at all
Don’t know/ Can’t say"

It gave you an option to not supply an answer of likelihood.

Then the next page:

I don’t think it was covert it was just more poorly presented about what they wanted to obtain. Perhaps the statements included in the last image I posted could have also been put at the front of the survey to introduce the reasons for the survey more succinctly.

8 Likes

I agree it could have been done better. I started doing the survey until I got to that page & thought that maybe it wasn’t a survey at all but just a trap like a lot of clickbait around, so I just closed the page & didn’t complete the survey

5 Likes

I also was concerned with the survey (and said so in one of the free text questions). The survey wasn’t really a survey - rather it was a solicitation for donations. To market something as something it clearly is not is deceptive. For the deception to be made by an organisation that is there to alert and protect consumers to deceptive, unethical and immoral marketing is really a worry.

Choice needs to seriously consider it’s business model. Sure Choice has the right to ask for donations, however rather than fake surveys, just ask for them. ‘Nickel and diming’ on subscriptions (paying extra for digital access and so on) is also ethically dubious from an organisation that points out the lack of ethics in others.

The survey was poorly thought out and ethically dubious as it didn’t clear say in the survey or email that it waa really asking if/why would you consider donating to the organisation putting the survey out. Be honest and upfront next time.

2 Likes

I too agree with the others. I was feeling very conflicted regarding (potentially) donating to choice under the ruse of the survey. This has opened up a bit of a hornets nest now. I hope very little damage has been done and that the choice community is generally very forgiving of this. I also have been a long time member and I get so much in return from this organisation. But the survey ‘reeked of sneaky’! You rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong, Choice, so I was able to reconcile. It appears that the majority of the community has also done this. In saying that, I hope you take these posts on board and next time, be more upfront.

3 Likes