The survey of 236 members of the chief executives body will be presented at its annual conference on 1 December. It was conducted amid concern that the drive to promote openness within the sector, though necessary, will lead to the disclosure of information, such as six-figure salaries for some charity directors, that might shock people outside the sector.
The report shows that although there is widespread trust in the sector, it is not based on an understanding of how it works and that members of the public may have unrealistically high expectations of the people in charge. Only one in five members believes the public supports competitive rates of pay for charity leaders.
David Hunter, policy and development officer at Acevo, said: "The report not only reaffirms how important public trust is, but also exposes many of the myths and misunderstandings associated with the subject."
Alan Gosschalk, director of fundraising at Shelter and one of the prime movers behind ImpACT, the cross-sector initiative to improve transparency, said he wasn't surprised by the findings.
"I'm more interested in what the public thinks than what a few Acevo members think," he added.