The charity sector’s reputation seems to have at least partially recovered from the damage done by this year’s safeguarding scandal, data from the polling company YouGov shows.
Speaking at a Westminster Social Policy Forum event in central London yesterday, Briony Gunstone, research director, public sector and not-for-profit, at YouGov, said the pollsters spoke to 1,612 adults about their views of the charity sector and compared them with previous surveys taken every six months.
She said YouGov had found "a particular dip" in the sector’s reputation in the early months of 2018, after the publication of stories about safeguarding failures at Oxfam and other international aid charities. In February, just 33 per cent of people said they believed the sector had a good reputation.
"But we now see 47 per cent saying the sector has a good reputation, which is consistent with what we saw in early 2017," she said. "So we can perhaps see this as a partial recovery."
The sector’s reputation had not gone back to the high scores seen in 2013, Gunstone said, but that was unlikely to happen and the sector should perhaps see the current scores as the "new baseline".
She said YouGov polling had found that the public were aware of negative stories about charities in the press in recent years and took them seriously.
Its research found that 64 per cent of people remembered seeing negative news stories about the sector in the past few years and, of those, three-quarters said they believed that coverage had been fair to the sector, said Gunstone.
She said a "fairly significant" proportion of respondents, 46 per cent, believed problems in the sector were more widespread than "just a few bad apples".
But she added that 72 per cent said the sector brought some value to society and almost half thought the work of charities was more important to society than it was five years before.
"Overall, the public considers the charity’s ultimate aim and purpose, such as who it helps and what difference it makes to be more important than how it works to achieve that aim and purpose, and this is particularly high among those who give to charity," Gunstone said.