|Many charities operating in the UK and across the globe have achieved the privileged position of enjoying a high level of trust from members of the public. This can be hugely valuable when it comes to marketing and boosting recognition of the charity, with the ultimate aim of raising more money for a good cause.
However, all charities – even those with globally recognised brands – should remember that public trust cannot be taken for granted. It’s important for fundraising organisations to give close thought to how they can build, maintain and leverage their trusted position.
Charities gaining trust despite adversity
However, recent signs suggest that charitable organisations are on the right track as far as gaining trust is concerned. A survey by nfpSynergy, which has been tracking trust in charities and other institutions for over 15 years, revealed that charities are now the 3rd most trusted public institution in the UK, behind the NHS and the armed forces.
This marks a big improvement from 18 months ago, when charities were ranked 12th in the list, behind TV and radio stations. Overall levels of trust in charities has risen by nearly four percentage points since last autumn, from 60% to 64%.
Divided up by age, the results showed that under-24s are more likely to have faith in charities than any other group, with 71% of respondents saying they trust fundraising organisations. The proportion of over-65s expressing this view has fallen from 70% in October 2016 to 60% in the latest survey.
While the general rise in trust is clearly welcome news for charities, nfpSynergy stressed that there is ‘no grounds for complacency.’ The research consultancy noted: ‘We don’t know enough about why trust has risen, and it maybe [has] as much to do with events like Brexit and Trump’s election as anything the charity sector has specifically done.’
So how can charities maintain trust?
The importance of this issue was underlined by this month’s launch of the Fundraising Preference Service, which gives members of the public the option to opt out of charity communications.
Cancer Research UK expressed its full support for the new service, stressing the importance of letting people ‘decide which charities they want to hear from, and how.’
Ed Aspel, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Putting our supporters’ wishes first is incredibly important to us, which is why on 1 July we became one of the first charities to only contact supporters who have given unambiguous and explicit permission for the charity to contact them for marketing activity. This move to opt in means that no-one will hear from us about any of our marketing activity unless they have specifically asked to.’
Taking actions like this can make a big contribution to a charity’s reputation and help to maintain public trust.
Another positive step is to register with the Fundraising Regulator, which requires charities to agree to the Fundraising Promise. This outlines commitments made to donors and the general public, as well as key terms and conditions of registration.
Charities can also learn lessons from some of the methods used by private businesses to develop and maintain trust among customers. These could include adopting policies of complete transparency and honesty at all times, and taking every opportunity to engage with people and listen to their feedback.
If members of the public see charities implementing positive, responsible practices within their own organisation, they will be more likely to trust that the same ethical principles are being applied to fundraising and the use of funds.
Earning trust in this natural, organic way can be invaluable for institutions that rely on support and goodwill from the public.
Sources / Further Reading