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Surveys show strong support for charities in Scotland

27 Jun 2016

New surveys show strong support for charities in Scotland

Two surveys published today [27 June 2016] confirm continued public support for Scottish charities and highlight the issues faced by them. Also confirmed is support from both groups for the Regulator and its work. 

The Scottish Charity Regulator commissioned the surveys to see how attitudes compared to 2014. Independent research organisation Progressive surveyed over 1,000 members of the public and over 1,200 charity representatives as well as holding focus groups and in-depth telephone interviews to explore in more detail the issues raised. 

 Read the full public survey report here.
 Read the full charity survey report here.
 Read a summary of the results here (infographic).

As in previous years, OSCR’s stakeholder surveys asked members of the public whether and how they support charities; what levels of interest and support they have for charities; what issues of concern they had; and how aware they were of OSCR and its work. Charities were asked about the challenges they faced and how satisfied they were in dealing with the Regulator. 

Key points include:

• Levels of support for Scottish charities remain impressively high, with a quarter of the population volunteering and 9 out of 10 donating time, money or goods to charities.
• Most people support charities where they have a personal connection.
• A small overall decrease in trust was recorded, with negative media reports a contributing factor. However, overall trust remains strong and 8% of the public say that their trust has actually increased.
• Public trust in charities is strongest among those with awareness of the charity regulator and those with the highest levels of interest in charities.
• Among charities there is a strong increase in trusting the Regulator to treat them fairly, and high satisfaction scores for OSCR’s communication, particularly its website and online services.

OSCR’s Chief Executive, David Robb, welcomed the reports and said:

‘It’s reassuring to see that public trust in charities remains high, but clearly there are steps we can all take to reinforce this further. For the regulator, it’s about ensuring greater transparency, support and scrutiny, which we’re delivering through our new Targeted Regulation programme. For charities, it’s about publicising the work they do and the impact they have, whether that’s on their websites, in their annual reports and accounts, or in the local press. For the public, it’s checking charitable status on the Register and reassuring themselves about the organisations they are looking to support.

‘We’re very pleased to note charities’ approval of our website, particularly given our recent drive towards online services. We’ve also taken steps to highlight to the public what charitable status means, and encourage charities to promote that status wherever possible. Where there are issues of concern, such as fundraising, we’ve contributed to the development of the proposed new framework in Scotland. We look forward to the Working Group’s report next week and will continue our involvement as Ministers consider its recommendations.’ 

In response to the report’s findings, as well as welcoming continued high levels of trust in charities and support for the work and role of the Regulator, OSCR has highlighted a number of steps that can reinforce public trust and confidence.

What can charities do?

The public survey shows that members of the public feel more confident and trusting knowing that a charity is regulated. The key principle is transparency. Charities should be able to explain their activities and their impact, for example on their websites or in the Trustees’ Annual Report contained within the charity’s accounts. Charity trustees should be open and ready to explain the decisions they make, whether it’s a funding decision or staff salaries. OSCR has produced a ‘Registration logo’ for charities to use on their websites and email signatures, that can be linked back to the individual Register entry. 

Download the logo here.

What can the public do?

It’s easy to check whether an organisation is a charity – search the Register here. This provides basic information about every registered charity in Scotland and as of 1 April 2016, OSCR has begun publishing charity accounts as they are submitted. You are also entitled to a copy of the charity’s constitution and most recent accounts, direct from the charity. They are allowed to charge for this, but only to cover the cost of producing the documents – for example, photocopying and postage. 

What can the Regulator do?

OSCR is already taking steps to reinforce public confidence in charities and their work. Targeted Regulation will see OSCR focusing its resources only on those groups of charities where scrutiny or support is required. The Regulator is also actively participating in sector groups such as the Working Group on charity fundraising, due to report in early July.Scottish