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Trust in UK Charities, Findings Challenged

16 July 2018 at 2:48 pm
Paul Carter
There has been a challenge to recent research findings suggesting that the British public’s trust in charities was at an all-time low.

Paul Carter | 16 July 2018 at 2:48 pm


Trust in UK Charities, Findings Challenged
16 July 2018 at 2:48 pm

There has been a challenge to recent research findings suggesting that the British public’s trust in charities was at an all-time low.

The Charity Commission’s latest trust research made for uncomfortable reading.

The level of public trust was at the lowest point since the regulator starting tracking it in 2005; having seen a significant drop two years ago, the level dropped slightly again to 5.5.

But critics of the survey findings have questioned the outcome relative to its timing.

The research was conducted just two weeks after the Oxfam scandal hit, in the same way that research in 2016 took place in the wake of the Kids Company and fundraising scandals.

This means it is impossible to say with any certainty whether trust has remained low since 2016 and just not recovered, or it if did and was then knocked back again because of the revelations about Oxfam, wrote Civil Society Media news editor Kirsty Weakley.

In her article Is It Time To Panic About Trust in Charities?, Weakley questioned whether trust was static concept, exposed issues to do with the negative picture painted by the Commission’s commentary, and probed its method.

“Now is not the time for too much introspection about levels of trust. The findings of this research are important and should feed through into changing behaviours and actions,” Weakley wrote.  

“But there is no need to spend the next two years publicly worrying about trust being at an all-time low and arguing about who should be in charge of the sector wide improve public trust campaign.

“Instead get on with being trustworthy by doing the right thing across all aspects of your work and making sure that this visible and clear to the public.”

A loss of trust in charities is not confined to the UK, with the latest global Edelman Trust Barometer revealing that trust in NGOs has fallen from 52 to 48 per cent.

Edelman Australia CEO Steven Spurr told Pro Bono News at the time that decline in trust in NGOs could be due to a number of reasons.

“I think it might be because in modern life more and more of us interact with NGOs of all different shapes,” Spurr said.

“It’s not just charities, it is organisations that provide support around the fringes of government provision, what traditionally 20 years ago would have been provided by the government is sometimes now provided by NGOs.

“So ultimately you are then in a position as a consumer that you are judging that NGO to be more part of the system than a fix in the system.”

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