Public trust in charities at all-time low, survey reveals

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11th July 2018 15:32 - Voluntary

Public trust in charities at an all-time low:  A survey designed to gauge the levels of public trust and confidence in charities has revealed the lowest score since 2005 when the Charity Commission first began tracking public opinion.

An average score of 5.5 out of 10 was given to charities by respondents rating levels of trust, down two points on 2016 results, when a score of 5.7 was given.

The Populus survey polled over 2,000 adults in England and Wales and was conducted just two weeks after the Oxfam Scandal broke in the national media, back in February 2018.

The Trust in Charities report found that a number of controversies (Kids Company in 2015, Age UK in 2016 and this year, Oxfam) may have contributed to increasing negative perceptions, causing trust levels to decline.

More than two fifths (45%) of those polled said their trust in charities had decreased in the last two years, a huge increase from just 18% who gave the same answer in 2014.

What is most important for trust?

Being transparent about how donations are spent was most important to respondents, who scored it 8.8 out of ten on a scale of importance. This was closely followed by a charity remaining true to their core values, with a score of 8.5. The least important factor when it came to rating trust was that the charity needs to be ‘entirely volunteer-run” scoring 6 out of 10. 

Who does the public trust most?

Report findings showed that on average, a person in the street (given a trust score of 5.7) was trusted more than a charity (5.5). Doctors and Police were afforded the most trust, scoring 7.4 and 6.4 out of ten, respectively.

Despite charities being awarded the lowest score since the survey began in 2005, as a collective the survey found they are still more trusted than social services (5.3), private companies (5.0) and MPs, who with a score of 3.6 fared worst in the poll.

Chair of the Charity Commission, Baroness Stowell said:

"The public has seen evidence of charities failing to demonstrate these behaviours. So it is not surprising that trust has not recovered and that the public are calling for greater transparency."

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