Trust in institutions (charities and the govt)

The public is increasingly concerned about ‘trust’.  As the public have greater access to information, the level of trust in institutions, including those previously regarded as experts, is declining.  Traditionally trust in charities has been based on an 'inherent belief' that charities will spend wisely and effectively rather than any rational knowledge on how they operate.  However, this trust has been shaken, partly due to the public reaction to some fundraising practices.  In response charities are becoming more transparent and adopting new mechanisms for accountability.

What are the implications?

This driver is a stub and will be completed soon.  Here we will explore the broad implications of the driver.

Moving forward

This driver is a stub and will be completed soon.  Here we will explore the potential impact of the driver on VCOs

Want to know more?

The Trouble With Trust: Building Confidence in Institutions -

Published by: BBC

Date: January 2008

Format: Web

What is it? A transcript of a speech by BBC Director General Mark Thompson about trust

How useful is this? A short and interesting speech about the relationship between the media and public institutions and the impact that has on trust, drawing on lessons from the BBC. Some of the ideas are particularly relevant to charities who, like the BBC, are relatively well trusted.

Last updated at 09:50 Fri 11/Apr/08.

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Author Comment

I recently went to an event organised by the Charity Commission, where they presented the findings of a 2008
Study into Public Trust and Confidence in Charities conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Commission. This follows a first study conducted by the Charity Commission in 2005, in response to the then Draft Charities Bill.

The main objectives of the research were to investigate public trust, confidence and attitudes towards charities; and explore the key drivers for overall trust.

First of all, the study identified a number of key drivers of public trust and confidence in charities:
- the belief that charities spend their money wisely and effectively is the principal driver of overall trust;
- the belief that charities ensure a reasonable proportion of donations make it to the end cause and ensure that fundraisers are ethical and honest are also important drivers at the top level;
- the belief that charities are regulated and controlled to ensure they work for the public benefit is another primary driver;
- other positive drivers include having personally experienced what a particular charity does, and belief in the charity’s cause.

Since 2005 there have been a number of significant changes that are worth highlighting:
- overall public trust and confidence in charities has increased slightly but significantly (from 6.3 to 6.6);
- the vast majority of the public view charities playing an ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ role in society, and agree that charities are trustworthy and act in the public interest;
- the proportion of people donating time and goods to a charity has increased significantly;
- much more people recognise themselves as beneficiaries of charities and reveal that they have benefited from a charity in some way.

It is also interesting that there is a fundamental difference between what the public overtly says is the most important quality, and what covertly actually drives overall trust and confidence in charities. In fact, when asked to prioritise which quality is most important to their trust and confidence in charities, the public prioritise making a positive difference to the cause they work for.

This study was carried out on behalf of the Charity Commission before the Icelandic crisis and economic turmoil, so it was very interesting to attend the event at a time when so many things are changing. There is more information in the full report, but I wonder what the results would be if carried out over the next couple of months.

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