Opportunities to increase public confidence in charities #matteroftrust

I’ve been following reaction to the recent publication of data by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and IPSOS Mori on public perceptions of and trust in charities.

The report, called Matter of Trust, claims that:

  1. “more than 1 in 3 people have doubts about charities”

It’s worth noting here that in his blog, Toby Blume has questioned the way the data has been interpreted on this point, which may in fact paint a less bleak picture of public confidence in charities.

2. “there is no one mental image of charities: the vast majority of people (67%) think mostly about large organisations when they think of charities (vs 25% who think of small organisations)”

In reality, 41.7% of registered charities have an annual income between £0 and £10,000; 33.4% have an annual income between £10,001 and £100,000 (figures taken from recent Charity Commission statistics published on June 30th 2014). That’s not counting the thousands of unregistered charities and community groups up and down the country. At Dudley CVS, we define ‘small groups’ as having an income under £15,000 and they too make up the vast majority of organisations we support.

3. “people are less trusting if they mostly see charities as international (27%) versus those who see charities as being national or local organisations (21%).”

On top of this, the report highlights the finding that 40% of people surveyed would prefer to donate to local charities but only 15% actually thought of charities as local.

4. “the more people know charities, the more they tend to trust them” and “a substantial chunk of the public, 20%, say they know little or nothing about charities and have little trust in them.”

Though it should be noted that the report points out that increased knowledge of charities does not always mean greater trust in them, as a minority of respondents to the survey suggested that they knew a lot about charities but had low levels of trust in them.

So what can we learn from this report?

Perhaps we can conclude that being a charity is not enough in and of itself to guarantee public support. Maybe now more than ever charities could consider how they communicate their ethos, values and work to their stakeholders and the public. Perhaps this report is an opportunity for our sector in Dudley to shout about the great work that our local charities, voluntary organisations and community groups do.

As well as the report and Toby Blume’s blog on this, Kit Hunwicks has joined the conversation, advocating charities’ use of digital media to engage with the public, and others have joined in on Twitter.

What do you think you could do to improve public perceptions of a charity that you’re involved with or support? Have you seen any great examples of encouraging the public to support our local and small causes in Dudley borough? Do share your thoughts below.

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