Efficiency and impact most important factors in charity “trustworthiness” - Thorne Widgery

The Charity Commission has published new research into what factors the public associate with trustworthiness as part of its campaign to improve transparency in the sector.

The regulator said “being true” to values and demonstrating efficiency and impact are the two most important features in persuading the public to invest in your charity.

It asked members of the public to rate ‘trustworthy’ factors on a scale of one to 10.

As a whole, respondents cited “being transparent about where money goes” as the most important ingredient in trustworthiness at 8.8 out of ten.

This was followed by “charity being true to values” (8.5), “efficiency in use of resources” (8.4), “well-governed and well-managed” (8.3) and “able to demonstrate making a positive difference” (8.3).

The poll follows new research which shows that trust in not-for-profit organisations has waned in recent years.

Public trust in charities has plateaued since 2016, at 5.5 out of ten on average. Meanwhile, trust in other social institutions has declined over the same period.

It means that the public now trusts charities less than they trust the average person in the street, according to the Charity Commission.

The research also revealed that trust plays a major part in the donating behaviour of the public. It found that 52 per cent of those who trust a charity donate more as a consequence, while 41 per cent who say they trust a charity less will donate less as a result.

Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said: “Charitable endeavour is about benefiting society, adding value to our lives and communities – making the world a better place.

“This research shows that the public no longer give charities as institutions the benefit of the doubt in providing that value. What the public expect is not unreasonable: they want charities to be guided by their ethos and purpose in everything they do, and they want charities to use their money efficiently and responsibly. The public have seen evidence of charities failing to demonstrate these behaviours. So it is not surprising that trust has not recovered, and that the public are calling for greater transparency. This is proxy for a more profound issue: the public want evidence that charities are what they say they are.”