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Charities top community perceptions of leadership for the public good


25 September 2019 at 4:11 pm
Luke Michael
Australia’s perception of charities is on the rise, according to new research cementing charities as the nation’s highest rated institution.           


Luke Michael | 25 September 2019 at 4:11 pm


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Charities top community perceptions of leadership for the public good
25 September 2019 at 4:11 pm

Australia’s perception of charities is on the rise, according to new research cementing charities as the nation’s highest rated institution.           

Researchers at Swinburne University have been periodically polling 1,000 Australians on their perceptions and expectations of institutions across the government, public, private and NFP sectors to form the Australian Leadership Index.

This index measures institutions on how well they exhibit leadership for the “greater good” – which occurs when an organisation is seen as transparent, ethical and accountable.

When the index was launched earlier this year, charities were the highest rated individual institution – ahead of public health and education organisations – and the latest quarterly results have revealed that charities’ esteem in the community continues to grow.

While 47 per cent of Australians believed that charities showed leadership for the greater good in June, this increased to 55 per cent in September.

The second highest rated institution, education, rose from 37 per cent to 42 per cent, while health fell from 39 per cent to 38 per cent.

Swinburne researcher Dr Sam Wilson told Pro Bono News that leadership for the greater good required organisations to focus on creating positive social and environmental outcomes, and to show concern for the interests of the people they served and the wider community.

“The major drivers of perceptions of leadership for the greater good in the not-for-profit sector are accountability, ethicality and transparency. Charities improved on all counts,” Wilson said.

Despite the high rating of charities, Australians hold a negative view of the not-for-profit sector as a whole because of public distrust in religious organisations and trade unions.

The index compares the number of people with positive views of an institution’s leadership with those holding negative opinions.

When the index launched, the NFP sector rated -8. The sector’s score has risen this quarter but remains in negative territory at -4.

The public sector – including hospitals and schools – was the highest rated sector with a net positive rating of +11.

Unlike with charities, perceptions around leadership for the greater good shown by religious institutions (25 per cent) and trade unions (22 per cent) remained unchanged over the last quarter.

“Whereas there was no change in perceptions of trade unions’ accountability, ethicality and transparency, the apparent accountability of religious organisations has declined,” Wilson said.

Swinburne researcher Dr Timothy Bednall told Pro Bono News in July the the royal commission into institutional child sex abuse and the George Pell court case were likely the major reasons for public mistrust in religious organisations.

He said the reputation of trade unions was probably hurt by John Setka’s court case and a lack of understanding about what unions do.

This full index can be viewed here.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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