Public trust in charities returning, says nfpSynergy research

According to the polling results, 55 per cent of people trust charities 'quite a lot' or 'a great deal', compared with 48 per cent six months ago

Public: is trust coming back?
Public: is trust coming back?

Public trust in charities has bounced back in recent months, according to the research company nfpSynergy.

A survey of 1,000 nationally representative UK adults carried out by nfpSynergy in May showed that the proportion of people who said they trusted charities "quite a lot" or a "great deal" was 55 per cent, compared with 48 per cent six months earlier.

The survey found that the proportion of people in the 55 to 64 age group who said they trusted charities had increased by 15 percentage points on six months ago to 56 per cent in the most recent study.

Trust among the over-65s rose by 11 percentage points to 53 per cent. The only age group in which it did not increase over the past six months was among the 16 to 24 group, which remained flat at 61 per cent.

The increase meant charities moved up to ninth on the list of most trusted public institutions, up three places from six months ago.

Trust levels are still significantly lower than the 70 per cent figure recorded by nfpSynergy in January 2010. The lowest level recorded was 42 per cent in 2007.

Research published last week by the Charity Commission, carried out every two years, showed trust in charities to be at its lowest level since the regulator began measuring it in 2003.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said his organisation’s figures suggested that many sections of the UK public wanted to trust charities and, when the negative messages stopped, their trust returned.

But in a blog on the nfpSynergy website, he called on the Charity Commission to do more to carry out its statutory duty to improve trust and confidence in charities.

"Its approach to building trust seems to be an expensive exercise in research every other year and getting on with the day-to-day job of regulation," he said.

"I am sure the commission would argue that good regulation increases trust, and that is true. But as its own research shows, trust is dependent on far more than just alone.

"We need the commission to take an active role in all aspects of building trust, not just those that come from the job of regulation itself."

He said the regulator should lead a cross-sector working group that would attempt to build trust in charities.

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