Voluntary Sector: Public trust in charities falls

Survey finds that trust in charities has fallen 11 points since election in May 2010.

Charities have been suffering from 'trust volatility' since the general election, as public confidence has been rocked in the past two years.

Research from not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy has revealed that public trust in charities has dropped from a five-year high of 70 per cent in January 2010 to a low of 53 per cent in January 2011, before bouncing back to 59 per cent in July.

While the research showed that charities rank as the third most trusted UK institution - behind the armed forces and the NHS - it also revealed that the sector's trust volatility (the amount by which it can fluctuate) is second only to that of banks.

NfpSynergy's driver of ideas, Joe Saxton, has called on the Charity Commission, which is chaired by Suzi Leather, to take a more strident role in protecting the reputation of the sector.

'However, statutory duty alone is not enough,' added Saxton. 'The task cannot be left just to the Charity Commission. Charities need a better understanding of what influences trust. Above all, we need a sector-wide strategy to establish trust on a more stable footing.'

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: 'No regulator can, on its own, guarantee public confidence. Maintaining trust is a joint responsibility between charities, their representative bodies and the commission as regulator, and it is affected by a wide range of factors and perceptions about charities.'

She added that recent public focus groups conducted by the Charity Commission showed that 'the public expects charities to be well managed and the regulator to be robust in tackling serious mismanagement in charities'.

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