Public trust in the charity sector has improved over the past three years, and there is an appetite for the sector to do more campaigning and lobbying, according to figures from the research company Ipsos Mori.
Ben Page, chief executive the polling company, presented the research at the Acevo Gathering of Social Leaders conference in London this week.
Asked how their views of charities had changed over the past three years, 31 per cent of the 1,035 people questioned said they had become more positive about the sector; 23 per cent said they had become more negative.
Slightly more than two-fifths – 42 per cent – said they had neither improved nor deteriorated, and the remainder said they did not know.
Page told the conference of charity leaders that further findings showed a gap between what people thought charities should be doing and what they believed charities were actually doing.
For example, asked to select from a list of six activities that charities should do, 56 per cent said they should spend time helping communities; but only 35 per cent said they thought charities actually spent most of their time doing this.
Just under half, 47 per cent, said charities should be raising awareness of important issues in society; but only 37 per cent of people thought they were doing this.
Thirty-two per cent of people thought charities should be lobbying government to change laws or policy; only 24 per cent thought they were doing so.
Fifty-five per cent of people thought charities spent most of their time raising money for good causes, the most popular answer.
Page also noted that previous Ipsos Mori findings showed charity chief executive pay was the public’s main concern with the sector; 42 per cent of respondents then said charity bosses should earn less than MPs; 16 per cent said they should not be paid at all.
"There is no sign of the general anti-politics and anti-politicians feeling rubbing off on you," he told the conference. But he warned that the public wanted to know more about what the sector was doing.
Page said that the top four areas of concern ahead of the election, according to his company’s research, were the economy or the economic situation (47 per cent), race and immigration (33 per cent), unemployment (31 per cent) and crime (15 per cent). He said that though these last two were still big concerns, both had fallen to historic lows.