Public trust and confidence in charities

Te whakapono me te whakamanawa tūmatanui ki ngā kaupapa atawhai

Since 2008, surveys have been conducted every two years to measure the levels of public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. The results of the most recent survey, conducted in 2019, show that trust levels are moderate, at 5.9 out of ten. This is similar to earlier survey results.

Surveys were conducted from 2008 to 2016 to determine public trust and confidence, the 2016 survey also asked respondents for their levels of trust and confidence in a range of other sectors. The responses showed that charities do quite well when compared to other sectors – similar to the education sector, and slightly lower than law enforcement, small businesses and the health sector. But charities scored higher than the banking, large business, insurance and TV/ print media sectors.  

A number of reasons contribute to building overall trust and confidence in the charitable sector, but a key driver is transparency around the use of charitable funds. This includes charities applying the majority of their funds to making a positive difference in the areas where the funds were most needed – and letting the public know what they were doing.

The good news is that all registered charities are required to report annually, ensuring transparency about where their funds have been spent and (for most charities) what services they have delivered. These reports are publicly available on the Charities Register.(external link)

Other key drivers for trust and confidence in the charitable sector include personal reasons – having a connection to a charity or the charity supporting a cause that was personally important to the person, and knowing that charities are registered and sufficiently regulated to ensure that they benefit the public.

In 2019, after consulting with members of the sector, Charities Services decided to change the way it surveyed public trust and confidence. Rather than commissioning a full report, we commissioned a small survey to determine whether there have been any major changes to the overall public trust and confidence in the sector, or the drivers of public trust and confidence.

The survey confirmed public trust and confidence in charities is consistent at 5.9. Over half of respondents rated the importance of having a regulator at very high. The other significant drivers of public trust and confidence included: charities making a positive difference, their status as a registered charity, and the charity spending its money efficiently and on its end cause.   

The full survey results are available here [PDF, 166 KB].

Previous survey results

Previous survey results are also available below: