How can we rebuild public trust in charities?


The Charity Commission has published a report that showed that trust and confidence in charities has fallen to the lowest recorded level since monitoring began in 2005. The findings show that trust in charities has fallen from 6.7 out of 10 in 2014 to 5.7 this year. The report finds the fall in trust and confidence can be attributed to critical media coverage of charity practices, distrust about how charities spend donations, and a lack of knowledge among the public about where their donations go. Perceptions of aggressive fundraising tactics have also contributed to the decline in trust.

Sarah Atkinson discusses the research and what the sector can do to rebuild trust in a blog post. She writes:

Given the very difficult year we’ve had, this fall – the lowest recorded trust score since 2005 – was perhaps to be expected, perhaps you may even feel it could have been worse. Some people will tell you that it’s a blip, driven by media; others may say that measures of trust don’t tell you very much in comparison with hard data about donations or volunteering. For me, while it’s not a surprise to see public trust has fallen so far, it is a concern, and one that needs a strong and focused response from charities and all those who have an interest in upholding trust in charities. In a time of economic and political turbulence, charities undoubtedly have an important role to play in building community cohesion and serving, and speaking for, people in need. The legitimacy of this role rests in part on the public’s confidence.

Looking beneath the disappointing top line figures, this report tells you a lot about the drivers of public trust. If you know what matters to the public, and you act on it decisively, you can regain trust – we’ve seen that in other sectors.


Editor’s note

From a voluntary sector point of view, VANL would prefer the government to stop knocking charities and support us as they used to in the past. Of course trust is falling – the press and the government have been making hay with stories of one or two charities who failed, sometimes spectacularly, but not in large numbers. Only a few get it wrong, and the majority are doing really good work with fewer and fewer resources.