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The role of the Fundraising Regulator: public awareness, trust and expectations

We are pleased to publish our second piece of independent research, The role of the Fundraising Regulator: public awareness, trust and expectations, which provides a snapshot of trust in fundraising and the impact the Fundraising Regulator has made in this area. Download the full report below: 

Toby Harris, Chair, Fundraising Regulator

First and foremost, we want to share this research and start a conversation with the fundraising sector about how we can, together, improve trust in fundraising. Everyone that’s involved in fundraising has an individual responsibility to maintain trust in fundraising, whether you are a trustee, a senior fundraising manager or a fundraiser speaking to the public. And because trust can be undermined by the actions of one as well as the actions of many, there is a collective responsibility for the fundraising sector to learn from each other and improve fundraising practice where necessary.

Although it isn’t our role to directly encourage members of the public to donate to good causes, it is important that we too reflect on the impact of our work and we know we have more work to do in raising awareness of our regulatory work with the public.

We remain committed to regulating in a way that supports and encourages improvement in fundraising practice, while identifying behaviours and activities that undermine trust and therefore could have an impact on the publics donating behaviour. We look forward to working with charities, third parties and fundraisers over the coming months to look at how we can all play our part in improving trust in fundraising.

Key findings

We commissioned Light and Shade Research to carry out research with the public. The research explored:

  • public understanding and awareness of the Fundraising Regulator;
  • public trust in fundraisers* and the impact of the Fundraising Regulator on this; and
  • the views of the public on the Code of Fundraising Practice.

Light and Shade Research used both qualitative and quantitative methods to meet the varied objectives of the project.

Qualitative research, with 15 participants, took place in Cardiff, London and Newcastle. The qualitative research involved one-to-one interviews and focus groups. The qualitative research was carried out in November and December 2018.

In January 2019, a quantitative survey took place with a representative sample of 2,115 people from across the UK. We have summarised the key findings below, however you should read the full report here.

Donating behaviour

  • The public is generous with charitable donations; 70% have donated money in the past 12 months and 65% have donated goods in the same period.
  • Over the past year, goods and money donations were made by a similar number of people. 
  • Approximately 60% of the public made a one-off financial donation.
  • A quarter of people make a regular financial donation.
  • One third of donors have made their donation via a fundraiser.
  • Donating via a fundraiser was much more common in public than door to door.
  • 20% have given after a direct appeal and 15% have given following a media appeal.

Trust in fundraisers

  • One third of the population trust fundraisers, but 26% have very or fairly low trust.
  • Non-donors are the least trusting of fundraisers with a third declaring overall mistrust.
  • People who have donated within the past year reported higher levels of trust than non-donors.  Almost two-fifths of donors trust fundraisers.
  • Donors who have given in the past year via a fundraiser had the highest levels of trust. Half of this group said they have very of fairly high trust in fundraisers.
  • 83% of people who trust fundraisers are donors whereas only 63% who do not trust fundraisers currently give to charity.

Fundraising Regulator and the impact of regulation on trust

  • Awareness of the Fundraising Regulator is low at 7% and knowledge of the Fundraising Preference Service is similarly low at 6%.
  • After being told more about the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice 91% of the public considered the role of the Fundraising Regulator to be important and 88% thought the existence of the Code of Fundraising Practice was important.
  • Telling people about the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice significantly drives up trust in fundraisers.
  • More than 6 in 10 people reported higher trust in fundraisers once they knew about the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice.
  • Two-fifths of initially distrustful people reported increased levels of trust in fundraisers once they knew about the role of the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice.
  • Those who already trusted fundraisers reported even higher levels of trust once they knew about regulation and the code with 4 in 5 of these people stating their trust has increased.
  • One-third of people who were not intending to donate to charity in the next year reported increased levels of trust in fundraisers once they knew about the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice.
  • After being told more about the Fundraising preference Service 84% of people said the Fundraising Preference Service was ‘very’ or ‘fairly important’ and two-fifths of people said they were likely to sign up for the service.
  • Communicating that a charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator and is committed to meeting the code was important to 81% of people.  
  • Over four-fifths of the public could foresee a situation where they might want to refer to our standards. The most popular reasons to do so would be to check whether a fundraiser was genuine (56%), where they had a concern about general conduct (50%) or where they were considering making a complaint (49%).

Next steps

Public awareness and communications

  • We will explore ways to increase awareness of the Fundraising Regulator and the work we do with the public, including the ‘registered with’ badge.
  • We will look for opportunities to involve members of the public in our regulatory work.
  • We will improve the way we communicate with the public, focusing on our website and the information we produce. In doing so, we will consider the main reasons why the public might seek information from us and the amount of information they require.

Collaboration

  • We will identify opportunities to raise awareness of this research and the finidngs.
  • We will work with the sector to identify ways they can contribute to raising awareness of the commitment that they are making to good fundraising practice and what it means to be registered.

Research

  • We will consider further research on public awareness and perceptions in the future.
  • Where appropriate we will look for opportunities to conduct research with others so that we make the best use of our resources.

*By fundraisers we mean someone who asks for money for a charity.