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Public trust in charities down 9% in two years in Scotland, SCVO figures show

Public trust in charities down 9% in two years in Scotland, SCVO figures show

Public trust in charities in has fallen 9% over the last two years, figures released by reveal, as it launches a campaign to support good charity governance.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations asked Ipsos Mori to conduct a telephone survey as part of the Scottish Public Opinion Monitor in December 2017. The results show that 73% of the 1,088 people questioned strongly or tended to agree that “most charities are trustworthy and act in the public interest”, with this a drop from 82% in 2015. However the rate of trust recorded in Scotland is still higher than the Charity Commission figures of 61% for England and Wales.

Unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland is not covered by the Fundraising Regulator. It is regulated instead by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which also maintains and publishes the Scottish Charity Register. The OSCR was established under the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

Personal experience was a key indicator of trust in charities, according to the survey. When asked about the charities whose services they had used, respondents were more positive. A total of 77% of those questioned rated their trust and confidence as six or above out of 10 for charities whose services they had used and 59% gave high scores of eight and above. 77% also said they believe that charities play an important role in their communities, with 82% of Scottish households having used a charity in 2017: 74% taking part in a charity-run social or cultural activity and 43% helped in some way by a charity.

Media coverage of charities is still having an effect on trust levels in Scotland, the survey also revealed. It showed that more than a third of those questioned (38%) said recent media stories had made them lose confidence in charities, compared to 21% who said recent personal experiences had made them lose confidence.

In response to the survey’s findings, which are being published today (21 February) at the SCVO’s Gathering event in Glasgow, the SCVO is also today launching its I Love Charity campaign, which aims to support good governance within organisations to ensure they are well run, open and transparent, and to encourage charities to better promote the positive impact of their work.

John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at SCVO said:

“Although trust in the sector is still high, these findings should act as a wake-up call for Scottish charities. We know the vast majority of Scottish charities are well run. But trust is fragile. While bad practice should be weeded out wherever it exists, we must act now to protect the reputations of charities that are well run and do amazing work.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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