Charity Commission report shows an increase in public trust in UK charities

The Charity Commission has welcomed findings that public trust in UK charities is at its highest since 2014. The report, carried out by Yonder in March this year, is an important insight into how attitudes towards charities are changing in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Perception of the importance of charities has risen for the first time since 2012 and this is the second year in a row that public trust has risen. The pandemic has likely played a part in this, highlighting the positive difference charities can make in a wide range of areas, such as tackling food poverty and conducting medical research.

The report cautions that whilst Covid has changed our lives, the public continues to have high expectations for charities. There are four key public expectations that continue to show up in the data collected:

1. A high proportion of charities’ money should be used for charitable activities
This was the most firmly held expectation. Participants in the survey accepted that a sizeable minority of a charity’s income will be used for running costs, provided that a clear majority of its income goes to those it is trying to help.

2. Charities should be making the impact they promise to make
There is a burden of proof on charities to evidence the positive difference they make. The report’s findings suggest that people want to see statistics of how much is spent and beneficiaries’ real-life stories.

3. Being a charity means acting charitably in how impact is delivered
50% of those surveyed said the way charities go about meeting their charitable purpose is just as important as whether that purpose is actually fulfilled, as opposed to 29% who thought it was more important that the purpose was fulfilled.

4. There is a collective responsibility of all charities to uphold the reputation of ‘charity’
The report found that this expectation weighs more heavily on larger charities in the public eye, who are perceived to represent the sector as a whole.

Looking ahead, the report states there is ‘no room for complacency’. Evidence will be key to achieving greater public trust. The report concludes that the Charity Commission could help with this, by making sure charities are demonstrating the impact they make and the use of their funds.