Expectations of sector 'too low'

Charities urged to improve how they publicise their work in order to boost public opinion

Charities must become better at publicising the high quality of their services, according to Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind.

Farmer was responding to the Charity Commission report A Balancing Act: New Perspectives On The Charity/Beneficiary Relationship, which found that only 9 per cent of the public think charities 'should' provide better services than the private or public sectors (Third Sector Online, 4 February).

He told delegates at the launch of the report last week that such low expectations were "to do with the notion that charity is something delivered by well-meaning people out of the goodness of their hearts".

David Tyler, chief executive of community groups umbrella body Community Matters, said the figure showed the public was willing to give charities "more latitude" in delivering public services.

But Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, described as good news the finding that 24 per cent of people thought charities 'would' deliver the best services, compared with 19 per cent for the public sector.

He said the 70 per cent of the public and 83 per cent of beneficiaries who would expect to be treated with dignity and respect by charities was "remarkably high".

Martin Kyndt, director of corporate affairs at Christian Aid, lamented the fact that only 18 per cent of people thought charities should be accountable to their beneficiaries. He said public service delivery contracts made organisations more concerned about the needs of funders than those of beneficiaries. "The needs of beneficiaries get swallowed up because they have no power," he said.

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, criticised the 13 per cent of charities that never referred people they could not help to other charities. "Increasing demand is not accompanied by an increase in resources, and a degree of need is not being met," she said.

Farmer said charities did not always trust each other to provide the same quality of service.

- See The Week, pp6-7.


2,000 charities and 3,000 members of the public were questioned by Ipsos Mori.

21% of the public have volunteered with a charity. 31% are regular donors.

28% of people would be embarrassed to receive free help from a charity.

35% of charities say demand exceeds supply for their services.

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