The Fundraising Regulator must prioritise making the public more aware of what it does, research commissioned by the regulator itself has concluded.
A report, The Role of the Fundraising Regulator: Public Awareness, Trust and Expectations, published today and produced by the agency Light & Shade Research, says that just 7 per cent of people surveyed had heard of the Fundraising Regulator.
The report is based on an online survey of 2,115 UK adults in January and 15 individual in-depth interviews followed by three focus groups, carried out in November and December.
Researchers found that there was a correlation between trust in fundraisers and giving behaviour: 83 per cent of people who said they trusted fundraisers were donors, whereas only 63 per cent of those who said they did not trust fundraisers gave to charity.
At the same time, although a third of the general population said they trusted fundraisers, only a fifth of non-donors said they did.
Sixty-one per cent of respondents said they would trust charities more once they were told about the existence of the Fundraising Regulator, and 63 per cent said they would trust them more when told about the Code of Fundraising Practice.
"This report has demonstrated that awareness significantly drives trust in fundraisers," the report says. "It also shows that trust correlates with giving behaviour. Therefore awareness-building should be a priority."
It says that the regulator should encourage charities to display the Fundraising Regulator logo on their marketing materials.
"There is the potential there to then create a virtuous circle whereby awareness of the Fundraising Regulator could increase alongside increased trust in fundraisers," the report says.
When told about the regulator, 89 per cent of initially distrustful people said they believed it was important and 86 per cent of them thought the code was important.
"It could be argued that this group of people are a valuable potential source of donations via fundraisers," the report says.
"The fact that so many think the Fundraising Regulator is important begins to indicate the role it could play in assuaging concerns about trust."
The most commonly used route to finding information about charities and fundraising was through charities’ own websites, the survey found, and the Fundraising Regulator was not typically used for this purpose.
But the report recommends that the regulator’s website should be redeveloped to include "a bespoke area of the website to be aimed at the public" after many survey respondents said they felt the information available was not aimed at them, but at fundraisers themselves, and contained too much detail to allow them to easily find the information they were looking for.
"Ideally, the new public-facing element of the website should clearly create a user experience that removes the friction in the current version and enable faster and easier discovery of key information," the report says.
Priya Warner, head of policy at the Fundraising Regulator, said: "We are pleased that the general public believes in the importance of regulation and that charities should follow our Code of Fundraising Practice.
"It is also encouraging to see how generous the public are with their donations and how much they value the work of fundraisers.
"We regularly seek the opinions of the charity sector to help inform and improve how we operate, and it has been an extremely useful exercise for us to do this with the general public."