We need to work together to grow public trust in fundraising

By Lord Toby Harris, Chair, the Fundraising Regulator

Everyone involved in fundraising, including the Fundraising Regulator, has a responsibility to build trust in fundraisers and fundraising. So last year, while we engaged with the public through our code consultation, we undertook some research on their understanding of the Fundraising Regulator and our impact on public trust in fundraisers.

We are now able to share the independent research report, The role of the Fundraising Regulator: public awareness, trust and expectations, and our initial response with you.

Trust is key to supporter experience

Research reports recently published by NCVO, CAF and IoF* highlight the ongoing importance of public giving to the sector and offering a good supporter experience. We believe that building trust in fundraising is a major part of that positive experience.  

Our research supports this by looking at the public’s giving behaviour, their trust levels, and how the Fundraising Regulator can influence trust. It offers some interesting findings and insight into the opportunities to build trust.

The findings

The research confirmed some useful knowledge. The UK public is generous with charitable donations; in the past 12 months, over two thirds of the public have donated money and a quarter of people have made a regular donation.

Awareness of the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice is low but I’m not surprised by this given we are a relatively young organisation. I was also heartened to see that, when informed about our organisation and the Code of Fundraising Practice, 9 in 10 people thought both were important. It was also significant to me that when the public are aware of the Fundraising Regulator and the code, they report higher levels of trust in fundraisers. This includes members of the public who were initially found to be distrustful of fundraisers.

The research also finds almost two-fifths of those who have given in the past year say they trust fundraisers, however, when this donor group is examined further, those who had given in the past year via a fundraiser had the highest levels of trust. While this is encouraging, there is still some way to go in building trust.

What’s next?

I don’t want to overstate our potential role; we don’t spend the days and weeks delivering fundraising campaigns. But we believe we have a role in working with the sector to improve trust. So this is a challenge for us – how do we work with charities and fundraisers to help build trust in fundraisers? And how do we increase public recognition of the standards we set to support fundraising work?

We see this research as a starting point for the conversation with the fundraising sector. The team at Fundraising Regulator will be reaching out to charities to talk about trust, so please keep an eye on our website and your inbox. In the meantime, please take a look at the research.

* NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac 2019, CAF UK Giving Report 2019, IoF Fundraising for Impact report 2019