Public trust in charities better than in 2018, says Charity Commission

According to the regulator's latest figures, the average level of trust is 6.2 out of 10, compared with 5.5 in 2018

Public: more trust in charities (Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)
Public: more trust in charities (Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

Public trust in charities has bounced back from the 15-year low of two years ago, according to new figures published by the Charity Commission.

The regulator’s report Regulating in the Public Interest shows today that the average level of trust in charities is 6.2 out of 10. This is an increase from 5.5 in 2018, the last time the survey was conducted and when public trust in charities had been knocked by controversies including the Oxfam safeguarding scandal and the collapse of Kids Company.

But the report, conducted with the research consultancy Populus, says the average level of trust in charities is still lower than in the four surveys carried out between 2008 and 2014, when it came out as either 6.6 or 6.7 out of 10. 

More than half of the 4,000 adults in England and Wales who took part in the survey in February said they trusted charities, and about one in 10 said they did not trust charities at all. The remainder were “on the fence”.

Researchers found that, on average, charities were trusted more than a "man/woman on the street", which scored 5.5 out of 10. But charities were still less trusted than doctors and police, which topped the rankings at 7.3 and 6.5 respectively.

MPs scored the lowest out of the 11 categories in the poll, with an average score of 3.8 out of 10.

The report says the rise in trust is a “welcome uptick”. 

It says: “To continue rebuilding trust and confidence, though, charities need to do a better job of responding to public expectations not least because they are not alone in being expressions of the nation’s charitable impulses.”

The survey found that 55 per cent of respondents saw charities as the best way of channelling support for good causes. 

Researchers found that some people had turned to giving support directly to local causes – giving food directly to food banks, for example – rather than supporting established charities. 

But the perceived importance of charities in society has fallen, with 55 per cent of respondents saying “charities play an essential or very important role”, down from 67 per cent 10 years ago. 

Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said the most important factor when it comes to the way a charity operates is that a high proportion of the money it raises goes to those it is trying to help.

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