Public trust in charities reaches highest level since 2014

Research carried out on behalf of the Charity Commission shows trust in voluntary organisations was an average of 6.4 out of 10

(Photograph: Skitterphoto/Pexels)
(Photograph: Skitterphoto/Pexels)

Public trust in charities has reached its highest level since 2014, research published by the Charity Commission has shown. 

An independent study carried out by the polling company Yonder showed that the people’s trust in charities came out as an average of 6.4 out of 10, up from 6.2 a year ago and significantly higher than the low of 5.5 recorded in 2018. 

A report into the findings says there have been “significant improvements in public attitudes towards charities over the past 12 months”.

The highest figure to date is 6.7 out of 10, recorded in 2014. 

The new figures are based on a demographically representative online survey of 4,037 people in England and Wales between 18 and 21 January. 

The survey predicts that the gradual decline in charity trust was in correlation to major media stories including Oxfam’s safeguarding scandal in 2018 and news surrounding Kids Company, which collapsed in 2015.

According to the report, charities are more trusted than most other parts of society, including banks, social services, local councils and MPs.

Charities held the third most trusted status in society, behind police and doctors.

For the first time since 2012, the percentage of the public who view charities as “essential” or “very important” has increased, totalling 60 per cent, compared with 55 per cent last year. 

The research also indicates that the pandemic had triggered a slight rise in people agreeing that “charities are more important in today’s society than they’ve ever been”, with the figure rising three percentage points year on year to 70 per cent.

Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “More than ever, people need evidence that charities are not ends in themselves, but vehicles for making the world a better place, both through what they achieve and the values they live along the way.

“This research also reminds us that while the public shares the same basic expectations of charity, people have different attitudes depending on who they are and where they come from.  

“If they are to continue rebuilding trust, charities must recognise and respect this diversity, and engage with a wide range of views and attitudes.”

In addition to the online survey, Yonder conducted in-depth, 30-minute interviews with 20 people in February. 

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