Three-quarters of trustees 'aware of public benefit', Charity Commission finds

Survey also shows a quarter know 'nothing at all' about it

Three-quarters of charity trustees have at least some awareness of the public benefit requirement, according to a Charity Commission survey.

Seventy-six per cent of the 1,500 trustees surveyed in August and September for Charities' awareness, understanding and attitudes towards the public benefit requirement, published today, had some knowledge of the requirement.

However, only 6 per cent said they had a "great deal" of knowledge, compared with 35 per cent who had "not very much" and 24 per cent who had "nothing at all".

Of those with some knowledge of the requirement, 60 per cent said they were confident in their understanding and 98 per cent were confident that their organisation could meet the requirement. However, only 5 per cent got six out of six questions correct in a quiz about the requirement.

The requirement had prompted 48 per cent of trustees with some knowledge of it to think about the benefits offered by their organisations, and had led 22 per cent to re-examine their organisations' aims.

Thirty-seven per cent said complying with the requirement was a burden – although only 27 per cent said their organisations had taken any action to comply with it.

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, said she was pleased to hear there was a "good level" of awareness of the requirement.

"However, there is clearly still work for the commission to do in increasing that awareness and deepening charities' understanding of public benefit," she said. "We will use the findings to inform and further develop our work in this area." 

Other findings from the report

  • Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said the level of regulation of charities was about right; 24 per cent said it was too much. Of the latter, only 15 per cent said this was down to the commission, compared with 50 per cent who blamed other regulators such as Companies House.
  • Attracting funding is the greatest current challenge for 45 per cent of charities. Only 4 per cent put complying with charity regulation top of the list.

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