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Charity sector’s reputation remains strong amid COVID crisis

21 December 2020 at 5:55 pm
Luke Michael
Australia's most reputable charity will no longer be crowned   

Luke Michael | 21 December 2020 at 5:55 pm


Charity sector’s reputation remains strong amid COVID crisis
21 December 2020 at 5:55 pm

Australia’s most reputable charity will no longer be crowned   

Normally at this time of year we would be celebrating Australia’s most reputable charity, but the organisation behind the index has decided to not publish the list this year, as it looks to focus instead on the sector’s reputation as a whole. 

For years, RepTrak (formerly known as the Reputation Institute) has published the Australian Charity Reputation Index, which ranks Australia’s 40 largest charities using a scoring system measuring areas such as trust, admiration, respect and overall esteem.

CareFlight ranked first in the 2019 index, followed by the Royal Flying Doctor Service – ­which led the index the previous eight years in a row. 

RepTrak has again conducted the study this year, but will not be releasing the index publically.

Managing director Oliver Freedman told Pro Bono News there were several reasons for the decision.

“The first reason was because we would like people to focus on the insights and the broad trends of what we’re seeing in the sector, rather than who is ranked one or four or eight,” Freedman said. 

He said another reason was to stop people interpreting the index wrong. RepTrak traditionally selects Australia’s 40 largest charities for the study based on the charity commission’s revenue data. 

But since the revenue of charities – and therefore the list of 40 organisations – varies from year to year, Freedman said this led people to falsely assume a charity’s reputation had slipped if they were no longer on the list. 

“So we’re trying to avoid that kind of confusion,” he said.

Public expectations of sector remain unchanged despite COVID-19

While RepTrak will not be releasing the index publicly any more, Freedman said they may release key data from the study in future years – though it was too difficult for them to do so this year.

But he was able to reveal some key findings to Pro Bono News, namely that COVID-19 has not altered the public expectations or view of the sector.   

“The key drivers of reputation for a charity are almost identical to 12 months ago,” he said. 

“These drivers are the impact the charity has on the community, the specific services that are delivered, and [what I call] the professionalism, or the capability of that professionalism to deliver what you need to.” 

Freedman said the data showed that charities were still viewed positively by the community in wake of their response to the bushfires and the pandemic. 

He noted the controversy earlier this year around how quickly donations were reaching bushfire-affected communities, but said this hasn’t impacted the sector’s reputation as a whole.

Going forward, he said it was key the sector played a role in the community rebuild as the impacts of COVID continue to be felt.

“Part of the challenge for the sector will be explaining exactly what it is that they’re doing to help in the recovery,” he said. 

“I think the more organisations can do that, the more we can actually see the sector’s reputation increase.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

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

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