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Research First - We might be a generous bunch, but do we really know who we give to?

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Isentia launches Live Alerts to give clients increased speed and efficiency in broadcast media monitoring

Isentia has announced the launch of Live Alerts, an innovative new broadcast media alert service that combines new and existing technologies to give communications professionals real time broadcast media updates on important events happening in Australia and New Zealand.

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Research First

We might be a generous bunch, but do we really know who we give to?

Kiwis are super generous – they know how to dig deep and they hate to see a another in need. In fact, according to the CAF World Giving Index, New Zealand is the third most giving country in the world, just behind Australia and - the most generous of the lot - Indonesia.

Couple that with the fact that there are more charities in New Zealand per head of population than any other country in the world (in fact one charity for 169 people), and that generosity of spirit needs a lot of stretch! Most donors are giving to multiple charities; an average of 1.6 in any given month.

But do we actually know who’s who and who that hard-earnt dollar is actually going to? Now with eighteen months of continuous data about how New Zealanders give, we can confidently say that things aren’t as predictable as you may have first thought.

Organisations generally believe that people give on the basis that they have a good understanding of who’s behind the collection and that they believe them to be trustworthy. But from the rating of charities in Research First’s inaugural Charities Monitor, it’s clear that awareness alone doesn’t necessarily equate to the largest slice of the giving pie.

This Research First Charities Monitor shows that the highest spontaneous recall of any charity in New Zealand is currently only 37%, and many of the big names aren’t even on the radar. Sixty-eight per cent of people surveyed feel that the sheer number of ‘worthy causes’ is confusing in itself, and that few charities clearly articulate what they stand for.

In the absence of a clearly articulated purpose, it’s not surprising that people struggle to identify how one charity is really that different from another. And the proliferation of worthy causes adds to the confusion. In fact, 57% Kiwis believe that there are currently too many charities seemingly doing the same thing.

And if this isn’t challenging enough, the fact that many charities insist on hitting the campaign trail at a similar time of the year just serves to compound the identity crisis further.

With the waters so muddied, many people find it difficult to establish any kind of loyalty let alone sustainable giving behaviours - so they just end up defaulting to spontaneous giving. Which is ok if you’re the donor but not so great if you’re the charity.

Which is where the value of the humble street appeals comes in: This Research First Charities Monitor shows that more people have donated to ‘on-the-street’ appeals in the last 18 months than by any other single means. And yet, one third of these people can’t remember which charity actually approached them in the street.

The Charities Monitor also shows that while 20% of kiwis deliberately give regularly, more than twice as many (44%) act on the spur of the moment – either motivated by a moment of connection in time or the associated rush of satisfaction that giving brings on.

Our giving changes with age, but in interesting ways. Older givers (those 55+) are more likely to be loyal givers. But while younger givers are much less loyal, they are no less generous. Those aged 18-34 give to a similar number of charities but share the love around even more, are more prone to spontaneous giving, and are more likely to give to anyone they perceive to need it.

What of that age-old-adage that charity begins at home? The Research First Charities Monitor shows there’s a shift going on there too, especially amongst the younger generations. The partyline in recent times has been that New Zealanders are gravitating more and more toward supporting local causes over international ones. However, the Charities Monitor data clearly shows a trend towards the younger generations being less likely to focus their generosity domestically.

The deeper we dig, the better our understanding of the attitudes driving the behaviours. But if there’s one rule of thumb ... never assume!

Rachel Harris, Research Manager
Research First - Insight Follows
For further information on the Charities Monitor, contact


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