Sector consultancy nfpSynergy showed 1,000 people a list of 12 reasons why they might trust a charity and asked them to pick their top five. The most widely picked factor was high fundraising standards, chosen by 46 per cent of respondents.
Thirty per cent said knowing that a charity was a member of the Fundraising Standards Board would make them trust a charity: this was the fifth most-chosen factor.
"We didn't show people the FRSB logo when we asked the question, so it's interesting that almost a third of them ticked the box," said Jonathan Baker, a researcher at nfpSynergy. "It could be that they hadn't heard of it, but they thought it sounded like a good idea."
Having personal contact with a charity was chosen as a factor by 39 per cent of respondents, and 38 per cent said they would trust a charity that had been established for a long time.
But only 4 per cent said backing from a celebrity would have the same effect, and only 5 per cent said they would trust a charity if they saw an advert for it on TV.
Twelve per cent of those asked chose the fact that a charity received funding from central government as a source of trust.
That a charity had formed a partnership with a well-known company was chosen by 7 per cent of the respondents.
But 7 per cent of them also ticked the box that said "nothing would make me trust a charity".
People were far more likely to support a charity that they trusted, said Baker. "But trust is all about perception. As bad news stories about junk mail and fake TV phone-ins abound, the sector must seize the initiative and get its own house in order."
The FRSB's most recent annual report gave figures for complaints about fundraising. More than 19,000 complaints were made about direct mail from charities in 2008, and 2,700 complaints were made about telephone fundraising.
- See Editorial, page 13.