Charities must do more to gain public trust

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Thinktank warns third sector organisations they have to stand up for each other.

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6th March 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Public faith in charites is improving but the third sector still needs to do more to gain trust, according to a leading thinktank.

Research from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) revealed a third of people have a more positive view of charities than they did three years ago. However, at the same time a quarter of people view charities more negatively.

NPC’s briefing paper, Mind the gap, says charities still need to find ways to answer concerns held by the public, particularly in the wake of recent negative media stories surrounding chief executive pay, charity campaigning and ethical investments.

NPC chief executive Dan Corry said the sector needs to come up with a joint strategy to respond more comprehensively to criticism.

Not all charities are perfect and the sector must be open about this, but many of the comments made about the sector are unfair and misleading

 “Not all charities are perfect and the sector must be open about this, but many of the comments made about the sector are unfair and misleading,” he said.

“If the sector can work together, it will be in a stronger position to withstand any erosion of trust it might yet suffer should the attacks by the press and MPs continue.”

Concerns within the public remain over expenditure – such as on chief executive’s salaries, running costs and the amount spent abroad – as well as charities putting pressure on people to donate the NPC briefing said.

Three fifths of people who responded to NPC's survey thought charity chief executive’s should earn less than an MP, with 16% thinking they should not be paid at all.

However, only around one in ten were unhappy about spending on employees’ salaries generally, suggesting that the public are mainly concerned with pay at the higher end.

The research also revealed a gap between what the public think charities should be doing compared to what they think they actually do.

Over half thought that charities should be helping communities but just 35% think that they already spend their time doing this.

Corry added charities need to explain better to supporters what they do and why. 

“For example, charity boards should be more vocal about the principles on which they have based a chief executive’s pay, a perspective that was largely missing from the recent debate,” he said.

“Indeed all of those who work for charities in the UK have a role to play in building the reputation of the sector and countering misperceptions.”