Acevo chief criticises regulator's 'unnecessarily negative narrative' on public trust

Vicky Browning says the sector must do better, but there is 'a huge amount of positive and impactful activity happening' every day

Vicky Browning
Vicky Browning

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, has said that comments made by the Charity Commission about trust in charities "perpetuate an unnecessarily negative narrative".

The regulator yesterday published its latest figures on public trust in charities, which showed it had reached the lowest level since the commission began measuring it in 2005.

Baroness Stowell, chair of the commission, said in a statement alongside the figures that charities had been "failing to demonstrate" behaviour that showed charities using their money efficiently and being guided by their ethos in everything they do.

But Browning said: "The Charity Commission survey provides useful benchmarking statistics, but I'm concerned that the framing of the statistics perpetuates an unnecessarily negative narrative.

"We know that there is still work to be done across the sector to improve practices in a number of areas. But there is still a huge amount of positive and impactful activity happening day in, day out, which underpins our society and much of which the public isn't thinking of when asked about levels of trust in charities."

She said the report showed that very few respondents to the survey thought of local charities, cultural institutions or educational organisations, "effectively meaning they were responding to questions with a very small proportion of the sector in mind".

Browning said she did not want to encourage complacency and charity leaders must be open to improvements that help them better achieve their missions.

"I support the Charity Commission’s assertion that we should be focusing on impact, stewardship and values," she said.

"However trust is not a static concept, and levels of trust vary across different communities and demographics. I encourage charity leaders to talk about trust with their beneficiaries, donors, volunteers and staff and to take action based on those insights."

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