Trust in charities rises amid coronavirus crisis

05 May 2020 News

Public trust in charities has grown significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new polling report.

Some 54% of people in the UK say that they trust charities “to do what is right” for society, a jump of six percentage points since January 2020, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.

Edelman says that all its data should be understood in the context of “one of the biggest health and financial crises in history”, which is likely to explain the recent fluctuations.

Trailing government

The data also shows that UK charities are less trusted than the government. 62% of people in the UK say they trust the government, up 24 points since the beginning of the year. This is the biggest rise in government trust seen anywhere in the world.

Globally 62% of people say that they trust businesses, the same as the global score for charities. The business figures are not broken down for the UK.

Global trust on the rise

A similar rise in charity trust levels have been seen over the same period in Germany, Canada and the United States.

Global trust in charities across the world is also at its highest level since 2012, at 62%, up from 51% eight years ago.

Around one in three people around the world agree that charity leaders are doing “an outstanding job” dealing with the impact of Covid-19, placing them ahead of private sector bosses (29%) but well behind scientists and academics (53%). Some 56% believe charity leaders can be trusted to tell the truth about the pandemic, a two-point rise from March 2020.

‘The long-term challenge’

Aidan Warner, communications manager at NCVO, told Civil Society News that the challenge for the sector lies in maintaining higher levels of trust into the future.

Warner said: “People’s baseline expectation is that charities will step up and help out in a crisis, so we wouldn’t expect plaudits for that in itself. Where we can enhance trust – and many charities have done this – is by defying expectations and going above and beyond what’s expected of us or what people’s preconceptions are – whether that’s in terms of being nimble, showing supporters we care about their welfare, or adapting whatever resources we have to help in the fight.

“The longer-term challenge is keeping these figures high, and a relentless focus on getting the tone of messages right in a sensitive environment is going to be more important than ever for the coming months.”

Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at ACEVO, said: “Civil society leaders and their teams have worked tirelessly to provide care, support and services during the pandemic. The work of civil society is never more needed and the pandemic has thrown the spotlight on the work of charities in a way that hasn’t happened for years. This could have contributed to the rise in public trust shown here. 

“The Barometer also found there was ‘an urgent call for NGOs to get things done’; this is also what civil society leaders want. However, in order to meet this public expectation, civil society needs further help from the government to deal with the simultaneous impact of income plummeting and demand going through the roof.”

Edelman polled more than 13,000 people all over the world between 15 April and 23 April.

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