Public trust in charities and other institutions

The number of people saying they trust charities has fallen from 66 percent to 56 percent in 2014, according to research published by nfpSynergy.

A poll of 1,000 people by the not-for-profit research consultancy shows that just over half of people now say they trust charities ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’, down from 66 percent in 2013.

Charities have dropped to seventh in a list of the most trusted institutions, from fourth last year. They have been overtaken by the royal family, schools and small businesses, according to the research.  

The Armed Forces, the NHS and the Scouts and Guides are top three in the list, with levels of trust at 70 percent, 68 percent and 64 percent respectively. Political parties and the government are bottom of the list with levels of trust at 12 percent and 20 percent respectively.

The survey, carried out in April, shows 28 percent of people trust the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) but the same proportion have never heard of the regulator.

Trust in charities increased steadily from 2007 to 2010, rising from 42 percent to 70 percent over the period, the report shows. This was followed by a significant drop in trust in 2011 before it recovered through 2012 and 2013. In 2011, public trust across institutions and public bodies dropped, it says.

Meanwhile, levels of trust in the FRSB, which was 22 percent in 2007, have remained "low and fairly static” over time, the report says. Although previous research by nfpSynergy has found fundraising standards and membership of the FRSB have been identified by the public, when prompted, as likely to encourage trust in a particular charity.

This year's survey asked respondents which statements would reassure them about making a donation or convince them a charity was doing a good job. 70 percent said ‘every new charity being scrutinised by the Charity Commission before approval’ was quite or very reassuring.

The survey shows 67 percent want to see ‘every charity’s accounts on the Commission’s website’ and 68 percent want to see an annual review of a charity’s costs to ensure they are as low as possible.

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