Majority of public think that media criticism of charities over last year was fair

24 Feb 2016 News

The majority of the public believe that the media accusations made against charities and third-party suppliers over the last 12 months have been fair, according to a YouGov poll.

The majority of the public believe that the media accusations made against charities and third-party suppliers over the last 12 months have been fair, according to a YouGov poll.

YouGov’s new Charity Reputation Research, launched at an event in London today, shows that of 2,085 adults surveyed, 67 per cent believe the media’s accusations of aggressive fundraising were fair. The research also shows that 63 per cent of people believe the media’s accusations about fundraisers targeting vulnerable people were also fair, while 61 per cent saw no problem with accusations over chief executive salaries.

Respondents did not believe that the sector was taking the accusations made by the media seriously enough. 61 per cent of 1,453 respondents said they didn’t believe the sector was taking accusations of aggressive fundraising techniques seriously. While 72 per cent of 1,282 survey respondents said they didn’t think charities were taking accusations of excessive pay for senior staff and chief executives seriously.

The same research showed that some 62 per cent of respondents were of the opinion that the behaviour of large charities in the last year had “damaged the reputation of the sector as a whole”. Only 5 per cent of respondents to the same question felt that the behaviour of large charities had improved the sector’s overall reputation.

According to the research, charities’ trustworthiness and “high ethical and moral standards” have both been particularly badly affected by the events of last year. Only 38 per cent of respondents to the February 2016 survey said they agreed that charities were trustworthy, compared with 54 per cent in 2013. In the same time span, 45 per cent of respondents said they believe that charities had high ethical and moral standards, a figure eleven per cent lower than in 2013.

YouGov also surveyed the public on its feeling on the proposed Fundraising Preference Service. 72 per cent of those surveyed said they believed an FPS would restore trust in the charitable sector. Less than half surveyed said that the creation of the Fundraising Regulator by itself was enough to restore their trust.

In a blog, Karl Wilding, director of public policy at NCVO, who also spoke at the event, wrote that the most concerning findings from the survey revolved around the public’s perception of the media’s attack articles.

“Perhaps of most concern is that for those who think coverage in the media has been fair,” Wilding wrote. “A substantial majority believe that large charities have not taken the accusations seriously. So, not only are we on the wrong side of public opinion, we are complacent in response.”

Wilding also wrote that NCVO and Acevo have been working closely with the Understanding Charities Group and will be using this “as the basis for a website to describe the modern charity sector”.

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