28 June 2016, The Tablet

Trust in charities in England and Wales falls to lowest point since polling began

Crises over the last two years has eroded trust in charities in England and Wales, says Charity Commission poll

Public trust of charities in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest since polling was begun, according to a survey by Populus commissioned by the Charity Commission. Overall level of trust and confidence in charities fell to 5.7 out of 10 this year compared to 6.7 in 2012 and 2014.

A third of those polled (33 per cent) said that their trust and confidence in charities has decreased, while only 6 per cent said that the trusted charities more than they did two years ago.

Meanwhile more than a fifth (21 per cent) said that they don’t trust charities as much because they did not know where the money goes, while 18 per cent said that the pressure tactics used by charities - through so-called chuggers on high streets and targeted mail campaigns - eroded their trust in charities with 74 per cent of those polled either agreeing or strongly agreeing that some of the fundraising methods the charities used made them feel uncomfortable (74%).

International aid charities were cited as the least trustworthy section of the charity industry because responders said that they don’t trust that the money is going to where the charity says it is going. Oxfam, in particular, was singled out by 11 per cent of those polled as being untrustworthy.

The results mean that charities are considered less trustworthy than the police, social services, and even the ordinary man on the street.

The fall in trust of charities can be attributed to a number of negative stories about charities in the press in the last two years, including the collapse of the Kid's Company charity, which went into liquidation last year despite receiving £46 million of funds from the government in its 20-year history. A third of those polled said that stories in the media has directly attributed to their feelings of mistrust. 

The suicide of Olive Cooke, 92, who was to have become "distressed and overwhelmed" after she was targeted for her generosity by charities and received almost 3,000 mailings from charities in a year.

William Shawcross, Chairman of the commission, said: “Charities play a vital role in society and this report shows that the public still overwhelmingly believe that. But public support cannot be taken for granted and these results show that action is needed to restore public confidence.

“These results are a call to action for everyone who values public trust in charities.”

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