The Charity Commission published its "Public trust in charities 2022" report on 14 July.

In some good news, overall, the public "continues to believe that charities are an important part of society" and trust in charities is higher than trust in other parts of society (including the police, banks, and social services). However, the report notes that there is less trust in charities among "less secure, less diverse" parts of England and Wales, and that this "trust deficit" needs to be addressed.

This trust is based on charities upholding four public expectations:

  • that a high proportion of charities' money is used for charitable activity;
  • that charities are making the impact they promise to make;
  • that the way charities go about making that impact is consistent with the spirit of 'charity'; and
  • that all charities have a role to play in upholding the reputation of charity in adhering to these expectations.

In less welcome reading, the report refers to "a stubbornly persistent scepticism regarding how charities use their money and how they behave". In terms of how important charities are to society, over half of respondents described charities as either 'essential' or 'very important' for society, which is down from the high of 76% reported ten years ago, and 33% of respondents believed that "only a little or none at all" of money raised by charities goes to help the intended beneficiaries.

In order to maintain and continue building public trust, particularly against the background of the current economic climate, the report highlights "the fundamental importance of [charities] proactively demonstrating where donors' money goes and how that money leads to impact".

Key suggestions for charities and their trustees made by the report include:

  • being proactively transparent for example around disclosure of senior charity staff salaries and showing the breakdown of how donations are spent;
  • demonstrating impact, including providing clear and regular updates for donors; and
  • engaging in social and cultural debate, particularly advocating for change in society where it helps their beneficiary groups. .

The full report can be accessed here.

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