Charities' role in society is increasingly seen as essential, according to independent research by Ipsos MORI, conducted on behalf of the Charity Commission, the regulator of charities in England and Wales. The research shows that there has been an increase in the number of people who feel that charities play an 'essential' role in society (37% compared to 30% in 2010). Overall, 96% of people say charities' role is essential, very important or fairly important.
Overall, public trust and confidence in charities remains high, with a mean score of 6.7 (up from 6.6 in 2010). The research shows that charities are still one of the most trusted groups, with only the police and doctors being more trusted.
The research also shows that the overwhelming majority of people believe charities should provide the public with information on 'how they spend their money' (96%) and on 'how they benefit the public' (94%). The public view on this has remained unchanged over time.
Awareness of the Charity Commission has increased over the past six years - 55% of people say they have heard of the Commission .This is a significant increase on 2005, when 46% of people said they had heard of the Charity Commission. Also, the public value the Commission's work highly; when its role is explained to them, 98% say its role is essential, very or fairly important.
The most common reason why some charities are trusted less is not knowing how their money is spent (36% who trust certain charities less than others mention this). The most common reason given for trusting a charity more is having seen or experienced what they do (38%), unchanged from 2010.
Other key findings include:
• Familiarity with charities has a strong bearing on trust with 82% of the public trusting charities more if they have heard of them;
• Three in five people agree they trust charities more if they are providing services within their local community (59%);
• The proportion of people who have themselves or whose close friends or family have 'received advice from a charity' has increased by six percentage points to 37% in 2012 from 2010;
• The research shows an increase in the proportion of people who say they have used a charity's services - a third of people (34%) say that they or close friends or family have benefited from or used the services of a charity compared to 30% in 2010.
• Two thirds (67%) of the public agree that some fundraising methods used by charities make them uncomfortable (in 2010 60%);
• Three quarters agree charities are trustworthy and act in the public interest (74%);
• Charities are seen by the public as providing a caring approach to the services they provide. 47% thought that charities would be more caring than other providers.
To read the research report, visit: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Library/about_us/ptc_ipsos_mori_2012.pdf.