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Commission publishes findings of research into drivers of trust in charities

Commission publishes findings of research into drivers of trust in charities

Transparency about where money goes, and staying true to values are the top drivers of in charities, new from the has shown.

The research, carried out by Populus and surveying 2,059 adults in England and Wales, reveals that the key drivers of trust are being: 

  • transparent about where money goes (8.8 of 10)
  • true to their values (8.5)
  • efficient in their use of resources (8.4)
  • well-governed and well-managed (8.3)
  • able to demonstrate making a positive difference (8.3)

The research found that public trust in charities has plateaued since 2016, and remains low at 5.5 out of 10. According to the study, the public now trust charities less than they trust the average person in the street.

The research also reveals that a person’s trust is closely associated with their donating behaviour; 52% of those whose trust has increased say they donate to charities more as a consequence, while 41% of those whose trust has decreased say they donate to charities less as a consequence. Similarly, individuals who do trust charities are far more likely to have recently made repeat donations to a charity than those who do not (24% vs. 11%). Those who do not trust charities are more likely to have never given to charities (9% vs. 1%).

Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said:

“Charitable endeavour is about benefiting society, adding value to our lives and communities – making the world a better place. This research shows that the public no longer give charities as institutions the benefit of the doubt in providing that value. What the public expect is not unreasonable: they want charities to be guided by their ethos and purpose in everything they do, and they want charities to use their money efficiently and responsibly. The public have seen evidence of charities failing to demonstrate these behaviours. So it is not surprising that trust has not recovered, and that the public are calling for greater transparency. This is proxy for a more profound issue: the public want evidence that charities are what they say they are.

“But this research also contains good news for charities and those who care about trust in charities: it shows that the answer is not to impose more rules and procedures or to tick more boxes, it is about attitude, ethos and culture.”

The full report can be downloaded from the .gov site.



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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