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Populus research highlights awareness of charities and charity regulation

Populus research commissioned by the Charity Commission for England and Wales explores trust and confidence in the Charity Commission, updating findings from 2015.

The research set out to establish current attitudes towards the Charity Commission and charity regulation, explore the effectiveness of the Charity Commission’s relationship with charities and other key stakeholders, and to explore the impact of charity regulation.

Populus consulted the general public, charities and stakeholders alike, combining quantitative research with all audiences and qualitative research gained by consulting CEOs and top level management of some of the UK’s leading charities.

View the infographic below for a summary of the key findings:

How does the charity sector compare to other sectors?

When compared directly to other industries, the charity sector is well trusted. Current public trust in charities is broadly comparable with public trust in schooling and childcare, and the food and drink industry. In addition, the charity sector is still the most trusted sector amongst charities themselves.

What has changed since 2015?

Despite a context of increased scrutiny on the sector and rising regulatory expectations, public trust and confidence in the Charity Commission has held steady compared to 2015.

The public are more aware of and engaged with charities and with charity regulation than two years ago. There has been a substantial rise in those who say they have received support from or have close connections to a charity.

Three in five have now heard of the Charity Commission and increasing numbers are aware of and using the online register and the Commission’s website.

Charity respondents’ trust and confidence in the Charity Commission has dropped a little since 2015 but remains high. In addition, the majority of stakeholders give the Commission fairly high trust and confidence scores. All three audiences make clear that they highly value its role.

View the full Trust and Confidence in the Charity Commission here


Public: Populus conducted 1002 Computer Aided Telephone Interviews (CATI) from 23 February – 2 March 2017. Telephone leads were generated at random, using a Random Digit Dialing (RDD) sample. Results were weighted to be representative of the adult population of England and Wales.

Charities: Populus conducted 1015 online interviews from 7 – 23 March 2017 using a sample of charities selected from the charity register. E-mail invitations were sent to addresses that charities had submitted as a contact point for the Charity Commission. The survey screened respondents to ensure that they were chairs, trustees, chief executives, or senior managers.

Stakeholders: Populus conducted 26 in-depth telephone interviews with charities, Government officials, umbrella bodies and professional advisors from 22 March – 25 April 2017. As is standard practice with senior stakeholders, all interviews were conducted anonymously, and no quotes are attributed to individual participants.

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