The level of public trust in charities in England and Wales has improved, according to research from the Charity Commission.
The research assessed people’s views of charities, from levels of trust to how charities should work, the role of the Charity Regulator and how best to channel the impulse to do good.
The Commission asked people to rate their trust in charities on a scale of 0-10. Two years ago, this figure hit a 15-year low of 5.5 out of 10. In 2020, this figure has gone up to 6.2 out of 10. However, this is still lower than 2008-2014, when the figure was 6.6-6.7.
Over half of the 4000 adults in England and Wales who took part in the survey said they trusted charities. About one in ten did not trust charities at all, and the remainder were ‘on the fence’.
In other findings from the research:
- 52% of people felt the way charities go about meeting their purpose is as important as whether they meet it or not; however, 71% of trustees felt this way.
- Two-thirds of trustees say they have a clear understanding of how public expectations ought to shape the way charities go about their work.
- More than a third of trustees said that when a charity falls short of public expectations, it’s because the public doesn’t understand the difficulties and complexities of running a charity.
- 79% of people said the most important thing in how a charity operates was knowing that a high proportion of the money it raises goes towards the people it is trying to help.
- 63% of people felt that charities were responsible for upholding the reputations of charities more generally, not just their own organisation.
- 55% of people said that charities remain the best way of channelling support for good causes and the impulse to do good.
- 69% of people said that charitable endeavour – such as volunteering in the community or donating to food banks – is something anyone can undertake and is not the exclusive domain of larger charities.
- 53% of people said that the Charity Regulator should ensure charities fulfil their wider responsibilities to society and not just stick to the letter of the law.
- Charities were deemed less trustworthy than doctors (7.3 out of 10) and the police (6.5), but higher than social services (5.3), councils (5.0) and MPs (3.8), among others.
Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said: ‘Regulating in this environment is not just about finding the most practical way of overseeing the registered charities we have. The charity sector needs to embrace a new generation of organisations with their own ideas for strengthening their communities and wider society.
‘The charity register should not be like a private members’ club: difficult to join but offering a place for life once you get in.’