Twice as many people view the fundraising profession positively than view it negatively, a survey commissioned by the Institute of Fundraising has found.
The survey of 2,623 adults, carried out by the polling company YouGov in April and May this year, found that 41 per cent of respondents were quite or very positive about the fundraising profession, whereas 18 per cent said they were quite or very negative about it.
Thirty-six per cent said they were neither positive nor negative. The remainder said they were not sure.
White respondents were more likely to view fundraising negatively than black or Asian respondents: 20 per cent compared with 12 per cent, researchers found.
Only 7 per cent of respondents said they had read, seen or heard something about the fundraising profession in the past month, with 55 per cent of those saying what they had heard had been positive and 26 per cent saying it had been negative.
Seventy-eight per cent of respondents said they thought raising funds for charity was an important thing. Younger people were more likely to consider it important, with 83 per cent agreeing that it was.
Forty-five per cent of all respondents said it would make no difference to how they viewed fundraising if it were to gain chartered status, which the IoF is pursuing. Just over a third (36 per cent) said it would make them more likely to view it positively and 3 per cent said it would make them view it more negatively.
Just over half (53 per cent) of all respondents said they believed fundraising professionals came from diverse backgrounds. Black respondents were the most likely to disagree that this was the case, with 14 per cent saying they did not believe fundraising was a diverse profession, compared with 7 per cent of white respondents and 6 per cent of Asian ones.
In a blog accompanying the results, Lizzie Ellis, policy and information officer at the IoF, said there was a lot of anecdotal evidence about what the public thinks of charities, but relatively little about its perception of the fundraising profession.
She said the survey had been conducted as the IoF prepares to submit its application for chartered status.
"We’ve been thinking and talking a lot about equality, diversity and inclusion in fundraising, but this was a unique opportunity to hear what the public think to make sure our work is informed by perspectives outside our own bubble," Ellis said.
"If we want fundraising to be a career of choice for everyone, we need to get a better idea of who it appeals to and why.
"Importantly, we wanted to be able to look at whether age, race, religion, disability or gender make a difference to how fundraising is perceived and understood by different people."
Ellis said that, although no community or demographic was a monolith, individual responses could be helpful in teasing out how the sector could be doing a better job of appealing to everyone equally.