Trust in charities falls among the least well off

  A blur of people

Overall public trust in charities remains high but has fallen significantly among those who are less economically privileged in the past year, research shows.

The latest data reveals that public trust in general in charities fell very slightly to an average of 6.2 out of 10 in 2022, down from 6.4 last year, according to a report from the Charity Commission.

The highest figure to date is 6.7 out of 10, which was recorded in 2014. 

The research, carried out by polling company Yonder, revealed that trust among those living in economically deprived, high-density and diverse-urban areas fell by 10 percentage points compared with a year ago, to 46 per cent.

Similarly, trust for charities among those living in more deprived rural areas where there is less diversity also dipped notably, to 37 per cent, a decrease of seven percentage points since the year before. 

Overall, public trust in charities is higher when compared with other sectors. Trust scores are second only to doctors, who received 7.2 out of 10, and are considerably higher than trust in newspapers (3.9), MPs (3.4) and government ministers (3.2).

The scores reflect a general trend, which shows public trust falling in every sector examined in the report.

The data revealed that people “tentatively” thought charities were meeting key expectations, such as making an impact. But nearly one in four of the public said they thought that a high proportion of money reached intended beneficiaries either “not at all” or “only a little”.

The research also found that the perceived importance of charities continued to fall, with just over half surveyed (56 per cent) saying that charities were “essential” or “very important” for society, down from a high of 76 per cent 10 years ago. 

The report said: “The public continues to believe that charities are an important part of society, provided that they meet four consistent expectations.

“Trust in charities remains higher than in most other parts of society – a reflection of the value the public thinks that charities can bring and have brought throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“There is, however, a stubbornly persistent scepticism regarding how charities use their money and how they behave. This was true before the pandemic and is still true now.”

Sarah Vibert, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said that high overall trust levels are perhaps not surprising, given the essential and very visible role charities have played supporting people and communities through the pandemic and responding to other crises such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the current cost of living crisis".

The findings are based on a demographically representative online survey of 4,348 people living in England and Wales, and was carried out between 8 and 15 February 2022.

Yonder also carried out 20 in-depth interviews of people in England and Wales as part of its research, conducted between 14 and 25 March 2022.

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