This report presents the findings of the 2014 Charity Commission study into public trust and confidence in charities, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Commission.
As with previous surveys, the 2014 research monitors progress on improving public trust and confidence in the sector as well as other key questions.
A representative survey of 1,163 adults aged 18 and over in England and Wales was conducted by telephone. Interviewing was conducted between 3rd and 23rd March 2014. Telephone leads were generated at random, using Random Digit Dialling (RDD) sample. Quotas were set on key demographic variables to ensure the final sample was representative of adults in England and Wales.
In addition to the quantitative survey, four discussion groups were conducted to allow us to explore some of the issues in greater depth and to add context and understanding to the quantitative data.
Some key findings include;
- There is a great deal of trust in the charity sector and an appreciation of the important role of charities across England and Wales. The public gives an average score of 6.7 out of ten when asked how much trust and confidence do you have in charities, which is consistent with levels of trust in previous surveys (6.7 in 2012 and 6.6 in 2010). Charities also continue to fare well when compared to other public bodies or institutions.
- However, there are indications that the public’s impression of charities’ behaviour is affecting certain aspects of their trust and confidence in the sector. Much of this is in the specific area of expenditure and how charities use their funds. There is a greater emphasis than in previous years on ensuring that donations are being spent on the end cause rather than salaries and administration and on fundraising methods that the public are not comfortable with.
- Two fifths (40%) of the public now say that they or their close family or friends have ever benefitted from or used the services of a charity (up from 34% in 2012). This proportion has increased steadily from 2005 when only 9% gave this response.
- Some of the qualitative discussions demonstrate that in addition to more being expected of charities in the sector, there is perceived to be a greater proliferation of charities. This was accompanied by questions over the need for many different charities to be working for similar causes. This sense of charities working in competition, rather than in partnership, could potentially exacerbate perceptions of insufficient donations reaching the end cause and lead to reduced trust in the sector as a whole.
- Though over half of adults in England and Wales have heard of the Charity Commission, few know in detail what the organisation does, and most assume it has a more active role in the day-to-day running of charities than is the case. There is a desire for strong and effective charity regulation, and for the organisation to be more bold in both publicising its activities and penalising charities that fall short of the required standard. The public believes that this would also help to raise the profile of the Commission and increase trust and confidence in both its own work, and the work of the charity sector.
The future of the UK workforce
Future public services should enable people to develop skills and change career mid-life to meet the economy’s skills needs. Many people would change career and retrain but don’t know how. We discussed with Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight at the West Midlands Combined Authority, how the WMCA Trailblazer devolution deal offered an opportunity to design solutions to integrate skills, employment, and careers services, and target funding at regional skills gaps. However, there remain national challenges for the devolution model to meet skills needs.
The future of the NHS
The NHS is currently facing significant pressures due to various challenges which will further escalate in the future if unaddressed. Additional funding and evolving NHS services are necessary remedies, as are the greater use of technology and measures to retain staff. But it’s also important to take action on areas outside of the NHS’s control like social care and the social determinants of health. Policy-making for the NHS should adopt a long-term approach, grounded in evidence and incorporating the perspectives of patients, the public and NHS staff in a meaningful way, to ensure that long-term investments are sustainable.