The Charity Commission has released its “Public Trust in Charities 2022” report on July 14.
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 safe and less diverse” parts of England and Wales, and that this “trust deficit” needs to be addressed.
This trust is based on associations that meet four public expectations:
- that a large proportion of charities’ money is used for charitable activities;
- that charities have the impact they promise to have;
- that the way charities go about having that impact is in keeping with the spirit of ‘charity’; and
- that all charities have a role to play in maintaining the reputation of the charity by adhering to these expectations.
In less welcome reading, the report refers to “a stubbornly persistent skepticism about how charities use their money and how they behave”. In terms of the importance of charities to society, more than half of respondents described charities as “essential” or “very important” to society, down from the peak of 76% reported a decade ago, and 33% of respondents believed that “only a little or none at all” of the money raised by charities will help intended beneficiaries.
In order to maintain and continue to build public confidence, particularly in the context of the current economic climate, the report stresses “the fundamental importance of
[charities] proactively demonstrating where donor money is going and how that money is having an impact.”
Key suggestions for charities and their trustees made by the report include:
- be proactively transparent, for example in disclosing the salaries of senior charities and showing the breakdown of how donations are spent;
- demonstrate impact, including providing clear and regular updates to donors; and
- engage in social and cultural debate, in particular advocating for change in society where this helps their beneficiary groups. .
The full report is available here.
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