Trust and confidence in charities stays static, Charity Commission survey shows

Ensuring income reaches the end cause is considered increasingly important by the public

The overall level of public trust and confidence in charities has not increased since 2008, according to the latest results of a Charity Commission survey carried out every two years.

Public Trust and Confidence in Charities reports the responses of 1,150 adults who were asked in May to rate their trust in a range of organisations on a scale of one to 10. One indicates no trust at all and 10 indicates complete trust. The mean for charities was 6.6, the same as in 2008.

But this year forty-one per cent of respondents rated their trust in charities as between eight and 10, compared with 36 per cent in 2008. The report calls this "some indication of a more positive shift."

Doctors retained the highest level of trust, with a mean score of 7.7 out of 10. Government ministers were lowest, on 3.9 out of 10.

The survey indicates a shift in the factors affecting public trust in charities. Forty-two per cent of respondents said the most important factor was "ensuring that a reasonable proportion of a charity’s income reaches the end cause", compared with 32 per cent in 2008.

The most important factor in 2008 was making a "positive difference to the cause they work for", with 35 per cent of respondents selecting it. This fell to 31 per cent for the 2010 survey.

Other findings include evidence that people aged between 18 and 44 and those in higher socio-economic groupings have more trust in charities than other groups, while those aged 65 or older are more likely to say that the fundraising methods used by charities "make them uncomfortable" and believe that charities "spend too much on salaries and administration".

The survey also found that the perceived impact of the Charity Commission was limited. A total of 86 per cent of people said they had not noticed positive effects of the commission’s work, while 95 per cent said they had not noticed negative effects of the commission’s work.

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, said: "The report indicates that people are becoming more interested in knowing how charities spend their donations. Charities will need to respond to more discriminating donors by explaining their spending decisions to the public and by demonstrating what they achieve."

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