Public trust in charities slumps nine points, 2006-2007

Public trust in charities slumps nine points, 2006-2007

2 Mar 2008
  • Scarce 2 in 5 British adults claim they trust British charities, according to latest figures (July 2007)
  • Only the BBC and the Banks seem to have taken a bigger institutional battering
  • Lower social grades (DEs), 55-64 year olds and those in Yorks/North East spearhead dip in confidence
  • Sector should adopt “clear communications strategy” and stop being “ostrich-like”, counsels Saxton

Public trust in charities slumped 9 percentage points (from 51% to 42%) between Sept 2006 and July 2007, according to latest figures released today (see attached summary slides). People from lower social grades (DEs: 30%), 55-64 year olds (35%) and those living in Yorkshire and the North East (26%) show least trust.

Leading not for profit sector think tank and research consultancy’s nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor surveyed a representative sample of almost 1200 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain, asking which British institutions they trust most and, specifically, which factors impact greatest on their ability to trust British charities.

The new figures show charities (42%) lagging behind Armed Forces (75%), Police (55%), NHS (51%), Scouts & Guides (50%) and Schools (46%) in terms of public confidence; having suffered the biggest (9%) dip, since Sept 2006, of all major public institutions suggested - apart from the BBC (down 17%, from 55% to 38%), Royal Mail (also down 9%, from 44% to 35%) and the Banks (down 15%, from 41% to 26%, and that’s “pre Northern Rock”). Interestingly, trust in the Government rose from 11% to 16% between Sept 2006 and July 2007, marking an - as it may well have since turned out, short-lived - “honeymoon” for Gordon Brown. 

Whilst women (44%) are generally more trusting of charities than men (40%), confidence in charities broadly dips with an increase in age (from 47% amongst 16-24 year olds to just 35% amongst 55-64 year olds) and a lowering of social grade (from 53% amongst ABs to just 30% amongst DEs). Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who have donated to charities (49%) trust them far more than those who have not donated (22%). There also appears to be massive regional variations: people in the North West are most trusting (51%), those in Yorkshire and the North East, the least (26%).

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said:

“These latest figures may well set nerves twitching throughout the sector. Only two in five British adults claim they trust our charities. Just nine months earlier, the majority said they did. Only the BBC and the Banks took a bigger institutional battering over this period. The situation can surely only be compounded by other research suggesting significant public apprehension, often ill-founded, around such areas as how charities raise and use funds or pay their staff. The sector cannot be ostrich-like and pretend the situation will improve on its own. We need to manage the reputation and image of charities and the sector proactively, backed by a clear communications strategy.”

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MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy ( is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.