The regulator welcomed the result but warned that transparency issues remain
Public trust in charities has significantly improved over the past two years, according to a survey by Scotland’s charity regulator (OSCR).
The regulator’s Scottish Charity and Public Survey for 2020 revealed trust in charities has increased to an average of 7.02 out of 10, up from 6.14 in 2018.
Trust was strongest for those charities working in Scotland (7.2), those working with volunteers (7.18) and those working within their local communities (7.09).
More than nine in 10 people in Scotland (93%) said they had donated money, time or goods to a charity in the last year, with 58% saying it was important to know how much of a donation goes towards a cause and 55% agreeing that seeing how a charity spent its money would make it more trustworthy.
The importance of a charity’s cause was the most common reason for choosing to support a charity (56% of those who donate), followed by trustworthiness (44%). Feedback from charities found that OSCR is highly trusted to keep a reliable register (96%) and to regulate the charity sector fairly (94%).
However, just 14% of charities agreed that ensuring the public have access to annual reports and accounts was mainly the responsibility of individual charities and only one in six viewed being transparent and accountable as mainly a charity’s responsibility. In both cases, 40% thought this responsibility lay with OSCR, while another 40% said charities and the regulator should share the responsibility.
OSCR welcomed the public’s increased trust in charities, but said organisations should be mindful of the importance of transparency in their operations.
Chief executive Maureen Mallon said: “An improvement in public trust is recognition of the important work conducted by Scottish charities and third sector support organisations.
“As regulator, it is encouraging to see from the results that the public and charities are positive about OSCR’s role and the work we do. We have gained vital feedback on areas where the sector can improve, and we will use this data to influence positive change with many different organisations.
“The importance of trust should not be underestimated by charities. The public expects them to be open and accountable about their operations, finances and motivations. Charities are not just accountable to OSCR, but also to the public, beneficiaries, communities and funders. OSCR provides clear guidance on successful reporting on our website and we will continue to promote greater transparency to charities as part of our ongoing engagement with them.”
The report’s findings will be used to help OSCR work with charities to ensure the public are more informed and have a greater understanding of the sector.