Why does Scotland love charity?
Susan Smith says Scotland's charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations demonstrate why they deserve to be loved every day
Over the last year or so, we’ve seen the third sector in hot water in the mainstream media with stories about poor fundraising practise, bad management and exorbitant chief executive salaries becoming common place. While it’s easy to dismiss these stories as tabloid scare-mongering, the fear is that the general public begin to buy into it and lose faith in the sector.
What a relief then to discover that despite research across the UK suggesting public trust in charities is falling, in Scotland research from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has found that trust remains high. It seems that negative stories are not having as big an impact north of the border as they are down south.
So, why is that? One reason may be the nature of the stories. The majority of negative stories have been about big household name charities based in London. Scottish charities are generally much smaller and are not in a position to pay their chiefs big salaries or engage in major telephone fundraising operations.
So, why does Scotland loves charity? Its because Is the third sector deserves to be loved
The stories also tend to appear in London-based newspapers. The Scottish media is generally more positive about the sector, recognising its value and promoting popular Scottish causes such as Maggie’s, Mary’s Meals and Aberlour.
Research also found that people in Scotland are more likely to give their time to charities. There are more charities per head of population in Scotland and the third sector is particularly active in smaller towns and rural locations. This means that Scots are more likely to have a personal connection to a charity, and this personal connection turns them into a passionate advocate.
SCVO’s research found that where people have a personal connection to a charity, their trust in the overall sector grows. The number of who gave scores of 6/10 or above for trust in charities rose from 67% to 78% and while those who rated the sector 9/10 or 10/10 trebled.
An investigation of charities in Bo’ness uncovered a huge level of passion and enthusiasm for the community and voluntary sector in the town. In Bo'ness, people understand that charities and voluntary organisations make their lives and town better.
Negative stories have not gone unnoticed in Scotland. Nearly a third for people said their level of trust had fallen in the last year and 41% of those admitted that was because of media stories. However, with overall trust remaining high, this dip isn’t currently making a major impact. It is hugely reassuring for the sector that only 15% of people whose trust had fallen put it down to a negative personal experience – the sector is clearly treating its supporters well.
So, why does Scotland loves charity? It's because the third sector deserves to be loved. Charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations do fantastic work in communities across Scotland every day. That’s worthy of celebration not just at the Gathering but all the time.
Tweet #ILoveCharity to tell us why you love the organisation you work for, volunteer with or fundraise for.