More than two-thirds of the public are concerned about the methods used by charities to fundraise, according to a Charity Commission report published today.
The report, Public Trust and Confidence in Charities, written for the commission by the polling company Ipsos Mori, says that 67 per cent of the public are uncomfortable with the fundraising methods used by charities, compared with 60 per cent in 2010.
Common complaints about fundraising include people being "bombarded with leaflets" and feeling "put upon" to donate on the spot by door-to-door fundraisers, and the use of distressing imagery in fundraising materials, the report says. Telephone fundraising, ‘chuggers’ and those who carry collection tins are also a source of frustration.
Nevertheless, the study, based on responses from more than 1,000 adults in England and Wales, says that public levels of trust and confidence in charities have held up despite much uncertainty and change in the environment in which they operate.
Members of the public give charities an average score of 6.7 out of 10 for their trustworthiness, the highest score since the commission began the survey in 2005. The score makes charities among the most trusted groups in society, with only doctors and the police more trusted. Overall, 96 per cent of people say that the role of charities is essential, very important or fairly important.
The research says local charities are trusted more than larger national ones, with 59 per cent agreeing that they trust organisations more if they are providing services in their local community.
However, those surveyed voice concerns about the amount of money charities spend on salaries and administration: almost 60 per cent of respondents believe too much money is spent on these.
Ensuring that a reasonable proportion of donations makes it to the end cause and knowing that charities are making a positive difference to the cause are cited as the two most important factors in winning the public’s trust, the report says.
Awareness of the Charity Commission has not changed significantly since 2010, with 55 per cent of respondents saying they have heard of the regulator, compared with 53 per cent in 2010.
The commission said in a statement: "This year’s report provides rich material to reflect on and a strong evidence base to use in our work to uphold and increase levels of public trust and confidence in charities. We know that we cannot do this on our own.
"We would like to encourage all charities to be aware of and understand the joint responsibility that the charity sector and charity regulator have in protecting the current high levels of public trust and confidence in charities."