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Trust in charities now at lowest for eight years Scotland and Northern Ireland have higher trust in charities than rest of Great Britain.


The public’s trust in charities has fallen to its lowest level in almost a decade, new research shows. Barely half of people now trust charities; a figure that sees them drop to 8th in a list of Britain’s most trusted institutions as the Armed Forces, the NHS and schools continue to lead the way.

The poll carried out by research consultancy nfpSynergy with a representative sample of 1000 members of the UK population shows that just 53% of people now trust charities ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’, down 3% on last year and down 13% since 2013. Nearly a third of people (29%) say they have “not much” trust in charities, while one in ten trust them “very little”, the sector’s worst figures since 2007.

These results come before the recent expose pieces in the Daily Mail and Sun, or the demise of Kids’ Company, and the coverage of the death of the Olive Cooke affair. For this reason nfpSynergy will be carrying out an extra wave of trust research in the autumn to try and gauge the impact of all the recent media exposure.

The Armed Forces continue to be the UK’s most trusted institution on 77%, with the NHS (70%) and schools (62%) making up the top three. Trust in the Royal Family, the police and schools continues to rise steadily, while the BBC’s levels continue to be volatile.

Political parties were once again bottom, as 47% of the public said they trusted political parties ‘very little’. Insurance companies, multinationals and the government are the other members of the bottom four. 

  • Public trust in charities is at 53%, the lowest since 2007 and putting them 8th in the list. It is down 3% on last year and 13% in the last two (slides 1 and 3)
  • Armed Forces remain top with 77%, while the NHS (70%) and schools (62%) make up the top three (slide 1)
  • Trust in the Royal Family, police and schools continues to rise steadily (slide 5)
  • The Fundraising Standards Board has fallen to 22% and 30% have never heard of it (slide 3)
  • Political parties are once again bottom, while insurance companies, multinationals and the government join them in the bottom four again (slide 2)
  • There appears to be little variation by age in levels of trust (slide 4) as trust in charities rises and falls together for the most part, irrespective of age


Trust varies across the UK

The trust figure from this year's survey in England and Wales alone is 52%. This compares with 62% in Scotland and 69% in Northern Ireland from comparable polls* undertaken this year.

nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton, said:

These are sobering figures for all of those who work in the sector, not least those who say ‘Crisis, what crisis?’.  Worse still they were researched just before much of the recent high profile press coverage of the sector.

The research does emphasise that we can take nothing for granted about people’s trust in the sector. All parts of the sector most work continuously to build trust in charities and to explain our work. Equally important we have to listen to what the public and donors tell us what annoys or concerns them about charities, which will probably reduce their levels of trust. We can’t just tell the public how modern charities are, we also have to listen to how they would like them to be.’

Please see the attached slides for more details.

For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton, please contact him directly on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net


*The question for the UK survey is "Please indicate how much trust you have in each of the bodies: ‘a great deal’ and ‘quite a lot’. The Scottish survey question is “To what extent do you trust each of the following institutions?” ‘a great deal + somewhat’. 

SOURCE: nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, which regularly surveys a representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain, asking them a range of charity-related questions. Data was used from the April 2015 wave.




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