A third of people have low levels of trust in charities, says Dan Corry of NPC

The chief executive of the think tank says its report, Matter of Trust, should act as a wake-up call to the sector

Dan Corry
Dan Corry

More than one in three people have low levels of trust in charities, with the public less likely to trust charities involved in political campaigning, according to a study by the think tank NPC.

Its report Matter of Trust is based on a poll of 1,000 people who were asked what they thought about when they imagined charities.

NPC found that more than one in three people (35 per cent) had low levels of trust in charities, rating them five or less out of 10. Only 22 per cent had a high level of trust in charities, rating them at eight or higher.

According to the report, respondents were also less trusting of charities that they viewed as political. Only 15 per cent of people said they had a high level of trust in charities that got involved in political issues, but 29 per cent said they had a high level of trust in charities that were not involved in political issues.

Only 21 per cent of respondents said they had a high level of trust in international charities, compared with 30 per cent for local charities and 26 per cent for national charities.

They also tended to have a higher level of trust in small charities (29 per cent) than in larger ones (23 per cent).

Charities that got most of their funding from government or businesses were trusted the least, with 55 per cent of respondents expressing low levels of trust in them.

Charities run by volunteers were considered more trustworthy, with 28 per cent of respondents expressing high levels of trust in them, compared with 21 per cent for charities led by paid professionals.

According to the report, the more that people knew about charities, the more they trusted them. Sixty-nine per cent of people who said they knew a great deal or a fair amount about a charity had high or medium levels of trust in it.

Dan Corry, chief executive of NPC, said: "Billions of pounds flow to UK charities every year, and many of them do fantastic work. But charities depend on the public for funding, volunteers and goodwill, so it is crucial that we understand how people view their work.

"Our new polling should act as a wake-up call. Public trust is probably influenced by recent high-profile controversies around pay and campaigning, and charities haven’t yet come up with a convincing response."

Corry said the prevailing view to emerge from the study was that the public tended to distrust organisations seen to be "large, professional and politicised".

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