Public trust in charities is rising, survey suggests

Public trust in charities is increasing in Scotland, according to latest charity regulator figures.

A survey carried out for the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) found that public trust in charities had increased from 6.14 out of 10 in 2018 to 7.02 out of 10 this year.

Trust in charities operating in Scotland is the strongest, followed by those who are exclusively work with volunteers and those who work in specific localities.

Among the Scottish adults surveyed for the OSCR’s Scottish Charity and Public Surveys 2020 almost all (93%) had given money, time or goods to a charity in the last year.

The main reason to support a charity was the importance of its cause, cited by 56% of donors. Trustworthiness is the next most important reason, given by 44%.

Public attitudes to what constitutes ‘trustworthiness’ are also revealed by the OSCR. More than half (58%) said that knowing how much of a donation goes to a cause would make them feel a charity is trustworthy.

Impact reporting

A similar proportion (55%) said seeing evidence of their impact helps with their confidence in charities. However, among charities just one in seven said that ensuring the public have access to annual reports and accounts was mainly the responsibility of individual charities.

“An improvement in public trust is recognition of the important work conducted by Scottish charities and third sector support organisations,” said OSCR chief executive Maureen Mallon.

She added: “The importance of trust should not be underestimated by charities. The public expects them to be open and accountable about their operations, finances and motivations. Charities are not just accountable to OSCR, but also to the public, beneficiaries, communities and funders.

“OSCR provides clear guidance on successful reporting on our website and we will continue to promote greater transparency to charities as part of our ongoing engagement with them.”

UK wide confidence

The OSCR’s survey comes as it emerged this month that public trust in charities across the UK had fallen amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research by nfpSynergy found that trust in charities was falling amid the health crisis, while confidence in other organisations, such as the NHS and Royal Mail, had increased.

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