Public trust and confidence in charities

Since 2008, biennial surveys have been conducted to measure the levels of public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. The results of the most recent survey, conducted in 2016, show that trust levels are moderate, at 5.9 out of ten. This is similar to earlier survey results, although it does represent a decrease from some of the earlier surveys.

For the first time the 2016 survey also asked respondents for their levels of trust and confidence in a range of other sectors. The responses shows that charities fare quite well when compared to other sectors – similar to the education sector, and slightly lower than law enforcement, small businesses and the health sector. But charities scored higher than the banking, large business, insurance and TV/ print media sectors.  

A range of factors contribute to building overall trust and confidence in the charitable sector, but a key driver is transparency around the use of charitable funds. This includes charities applying the majority of their funds to making a positive difference in the areas where the funds were most needed – and letting the public know what they were doing.

The good news is that all registered charities are required to report annually, ensuring transparency about where their funds have been spent and (for most charities) what services they have delivered. These reports are publicly available on the Charities Register.

Other key drivers for trust and confidence in the charitable sector include personal factors – having a connection with a charity or the charity supporting a cause that was personally important to the person, and knowing that charities are registered and sufficiently regulated to ensure that they benefit the public.

The survey also measured, for the first time, levels of trust and confidence in Charities Services as the regulator. The average response was 6.3 out of 10, higher than any other sector measured in the survey.

The full survey results are available here [PDF, 819 KB].

Previous survey results

Previous survey results are also available below: