In what ways can legitimacy be operationalised as a useful construct for determining how charities dealing with stigmatised issues attract donations? A case study of Social Bite and Bethany Christian Trust
In recent years, the social issue of homelessness has been brought significantly into the limelight in the UK, specifically Edinburgh, because of charities such as Social Bite, Bethany Christian Trust, Cyrenians and Fresh Start. 14, 607 homeless applications were made to the Scottish Government in a period of 6 months from April- September 2017, which is an increase of 6 percentage points from the year before (Scottish Government 2018). Furthermore, Fitzpatrick et al (2015) suggest that roughly 660 people sleep rough on the streets in Scotland every night, meaning that help from homeless Charities is much more necessary than ever before (Scottish Government 2018). The issue of homelessness has gained a lot of negative press in the past with both The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News papers declaring that the homeless were ‘The Real Shame on Scotland’s Streets’ (Small 1997). However, it is not clear how charities dealing with such issues that have gained negativity in the past can now show grounds for legitimacy. For this reason, it is necessary to look at the term legitimacy in detail and to figure out the ways in which a charity dealing with the above issue of homelessness may be seen as legitimate and if this legitimacy can affect donations. Conducting a case study, comparing both Social Bite and Bethany Christian Trust in terms of legitimacy is necessary as they both deal with the same issue- homelessness. However, there is a large gap in the volume of donations that they receive. Bethany Christian Trust received just over £1million in 2017 (Bethany Christian Trust Annual Report 2017), whereas Social Bite raised over £4million from their ‘Sleep in the Park’ event in November 2017 alone (Pagan 2017). Therefore, this dissertation is about testing a model based on legitimacy to see if it is a useful way for charities dealing with stigmatised issues- such as homelessness- to attract more funding.