Charities are second-most-trusted group in Northern Ireland, survey indicates

Charities in Northern Ireland are the second-most-trusted organisations or profession behind doctors, according to new research.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland conducted an online survey with 1,500 members of the public to measure levels of public trust and confidence in charities and the regulator.

The survey also aimed to identify the factors and key drivers of public trust and confidence, and to assess the impact of Covid-19 and a Court of Appeal ruling from February last year.

The landmark ruling forced the regulator to issue an apology after its decision-making process was found to be “unlawful”.

But the survey showed that fewer than one in 10 members of the public knew about the Court of Appeal judgment.

The research found that doctors were by far the most trusted of the professions and organisations measured, with a high rating offered by nearly seven in 10 members of the public.

Charities had the second-largest number (43 per cent) of high ratings, just ahead of the police service and small companies.

The figures contrast with those from nfpSynergy, which last year showed that public trust in charities in England, Wales and Scotland had dipped despite belief in many institutions reaching record highs during the pandemic.

The CCNI's data showed that more than four in five members of the public said they had supported a charity in the past six months, while the main methods of supporting a charity were donating items to a charity shop or charity appeal (44 per cent), followed by donating online and making a one-off donation to a charity for a specific campaign.

The charity’s cause was the main factor influencing people’s decision to support a charity and almost two in five respondents said their decision to do so was influenced by whether they knew someone who had benefitted from the charity.

Nearly three in five people said they had a high level of trust in charities to have a positive impact on the causes they represented and more than half said they had a high level of trust in charities with regards to raising funds/collecting donations.

One in 10 respondents said their trust and confidence in charities had increased over the past two years, thanks to their personal experience of using a charity (cited by 43 per cent of those who said this), followed by the experience of someone they know and witnessing the impact of a charity’s work in their local area.

But about one in 12 said their trust and confidence had decreased over the past two years, with media coverage about how charities spend donations as the main reason for this decline.

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