Bad press dents trust in charities » Charity Digital News

Bad press dents trust in charities


A series of negative news stories surrounding charities has dented public confidence in the sector, a study has found.

Harris Interactive, which works with a number of leading charities to help with their branding and communications as well as the research for the charity brand index, surveyed 400 members of the public to see how news stories such as the ill-fated E.ON and Age UK energy deal and Kids Company funding turmoil impacted thinking.

When asked if recent news had an effect on their trust towards charities as a whole, those polled said:

  • Just over a quarter (26 per cent) said their trust to charities hadn’t changed
  • Over half (56 per cent) said they now trust them less
  • A small number (13 per cent) said they were not aware of any recent news about charities
  • A small amount (five per cent) said they trust charities more.

Of those who were aware of the E.ON and Age UK news, 70 per cent said they trust charities less, highlighting how bad press does impact on the public’s trust towards charities.


Nuisance fundraising

The survey then asked about the impact of bad press coverage surrounding charities using persistent and nuisance fundraising techniques, including cold calling and excessive direct mail, to find out the public’s preferred communication methods when it came to charities.

Over half (55 per cent) said they do not want to be contacted, showing perhaps the negative impact prior communications have had.

Again you can see the negative impact of the E.ON and Age UK story, with 60 per cent of people who were aware of the story saying they do not wish to be contacted. For those who selected a contact method, the most preferred by far was email with over half (51 per cent) of respondents selecting this option.


Rebuild trust

The study’s authors concluded that, even though it’s only a very small minority of charities who receive bad press, it’s the industry as a whole that suffers with trust being lost amongst the public.

Harris Interactive suggest that, in order to regain trust, charities have to show donors exactly where their donations go. Charities should also ensure donors emotionally engage with their communications in a method that they are receptive to such as email, and awareness shouldn’t be raised via unpopular communication methods which can damage donor relationships and brand image.

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  • Carolyn Causton

    And yet despite the ‘phone hacking’ and the ‘cash to public officials’ issues, people still seem to trust the journalists! We need to stand up for our sector; Kids Company is a different issue. After all, a major bank has never, er… a newspaper has never, er… a broadcaster…