Fundraising Preference Service backed by public to restore trust in charities

The same YouGov research says recent bad news stories about fundraising have badly affected public trust in charities, with only 38 per cent now saying they consider charities trustworthy

Public: less trust in charities
Public: less trust in charities

Almost three-quarters of the public believe the new Fundraising Preference Service will help restore trust in charities, according to research from the polling company YouGov.

YouGovs’s new Charity Reputation Research, launched today at a breakfast event in London, says that 72 per cent of people thought the establishment of the FPS could help restore trust in the sector, making it the joint second most-popular option among respondents.

As part of a survey carried out earlier this month, more than 2,000 people were asked to select from a list the measures they believed would best help to restore public trust in the sector. The most popular option, selected by 78 per cent of respondents, was greater transparency about how a charity’s money was spent, for example in their annual reports or accounts.

The two options that came second, both selected by 72 per cent of respondents, were having an FPS and a compulsory opt-in/opt-out box on charity communcations related to sharing someone’s data with another charity.

Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed said the behaviour of large charities in the past few years had damaged the reputation of the sector as a whole; 5 per cent said they thought it had improved it.

According to the research, charities’ trustworthiness has been affected particularly badly, with 38 per cent of people saying they agreed charities were trustworthy, compared with 54 per cent in 2013.

Forty-five per cent of respondents said they believed charities had high ethical and moral standards, compared with 56 per cent in 2013. But there was no statistically significant change in the proportion of people – about two-thirds – who said they believed charities improved people’s lives and were socially useful.

Asked if they believed it was fair or unfair for charities to have been accused of aggressive fundraising, 67 per cent of respondents said it was fair and 21 per cent said it was unfair. Similar proportions of respondents said they believed it was fair and unfair respectively for charities to have been accused of failing to protect their elderly and vulnerable donors and to have paid senior staff excessive salaries.

Of those who thought the accusation that charities had used aggressive fundraising was fair, 61 per cent said they did not believe larger charities were taking the accusation seriously and 26 per cent said they believed they were.

YouGov also surveyed more than 100 MPs and more than 600 "opinion-formers" for its research. It found that about three-quarters of these groups said the sector generally functioned well.

MPs said the three most important issues for charities to address in 2016 were direct fundraising methods, such as street fundraising, their relations with elderly and vulnerable donors and concerns about their expenditure.

Among opinion-formers, the top three issues were concerns about the expenditure of funds, the professionalism of charity management and their general conduct, and their relations with elderly and vulnerable donors.

The research shows that, according to YouGov’s Charity Index, the overall brand health of charities declined by about two points – from 21 to 19 on the index – in May 2015 and still has not recovered. It shows that the donor satisfaction of 12 of the 20 charities with the highest awareness levels has declined year on year, from about 73 on the index in February 2015 to about 61 as of 10 February this year.

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