Public's main concern with charities is how they spend money, says NPC poll

A report based on polling with Ipsos Mori also says that 43 per cent of respondents disagreed that charity chief executives should be paid in line with their counterparts in the private and public sectors

How good causes spend their money is the issue that concerns the public most about charities, according to a poll by the think tank NPC and the polling company Ipsos Mori.

The study, Having Their Say: What the Public Likes and Dislikes About Charities, published today, is based on a poll of 1,009 people who were asked what was the main thing that charities did wrong.

The majority of respondents (43 per cent) either could not think of anything that charities did wrong, did not know or did not give an answer. But of the 600 people who did respond to the question, almost a third (31 per cent) cited how charities used their money; 28 per cent said "what charities do" – NPC says this latter phrase includes concerns about charities achieving their aims, as well as being too businesslike and too political.

The next highest-polling answer was how charities raised money (15 per cent), followed by spending too much money on administration and other running costs (13 per cent). Twelve per cent of the respondents said that charities put too much pressure on the public to donate; 6 per cent cited chuggers as a problem.

Eighty-two per cent of respondents either agreed or agreed strongly that it was important that charities were clear about how they spent their money.

The poll asked about the public’s attitudes to chief executive pay at charities. Forty-three per cent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed that charity chief executives should be paid the same as those running organisations of similar size in the public or private sectors, and only 22 per cent agreed or strongly agreed.

The report says it is important for charities to understand the public’s likes and dislikes and address concerns if they want to increase trust.

It says: "Improving transparency – and perceptions of transparency – would seem to be a key part of this trust-building. This is not without its risks, especially in the short term. Charities may find themselves confronted with tough questions and greater scrutiny before they feel ready to explain how they work and talk about their changing role. But, in our view, responding to concerns with greater transparency is the best ways to guarantee a strong, trusted sector."

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