Northern Ireland has highest levels of trust in charities, across the UK and Ireland

25 Mar 2021 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 25 Mar 2021

Public trust and confidence in charities is higher in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, research released by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has revealed.

According to an independent survey carried out by nfpSynergy, 71 per cent of Northern Ireland respondents reported trusting charities – 12 per cent higher than reported levels of trust in Great Britain, and 14 per cent higher than the Republic of Ireland.

Nicole Lappin, Northern Ireland’s Chief Charity Commissioner, welcomed the findings, which she said confirm the important place charities have in the hearts of the Northern Ireland public.

“The past year has been an extremely difficult one for everyone, including the thousands of charities in Northern Ireland who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in so many ways,” said Mrs Lappin.

“While I know many charities are struggling simply to survive in the unexpected world we’re currently living in, it’s important to remember just how vital the public are to charities – and the role that trust and confidence plays in running a successful charity, even during a pandemic.

“A charity that does not have the public’s trust and confidence may find it struggles to raise funds, attract volunteers, staff and even beneficiaries, or simply cannot fulfil its charitable objectives.

“That’s why I am so pleased to see that not only do we have such high levels of trust and confidence in charities in Northern Ireland, but the figures are rising – in fact there has been a 13 per cent increase in trust and confidence levels since 2018.”

What can increase public trust and confidence?

Mrs Lappin also highlighted the qualities which the respondents identified as most likely to increase their trust and confidence in a charity, with making a positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries rating highest with 59% citing this as important or most important.

Other issues identified as important were that the charity operates ethically and honestly, in keeping with its values, and is transparent and accountable in its reporting.

“Annual reporting to the Commission, with accounts and reports then published on the register of charities, provides charities with an important opportunity to highlight their impact and operations,” said Mrs Lappin.

“Even where there is not currently a legal requirement for your charity to report to the Commission, we would strongly encourage you to continue to do so. The register of charities is an open, easily accessible website where your supporters, funders and the public will be able to access a growing library of your charity’s accounts and reports,” Mrs Lappin continued.

“Annual reporting is a perfect opportunity to let the world know all the activities, successes and milestones your charity has achieved – and for you, your staff, volunteers and beneficiaries to feel justifiably proud.”

Donating to charities during COVID-19

Another interesting finding from the survey was how more traditional methods of donating to a charity, including via a collection tin or a charity shop, had been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to the survey, respondents donating via collection tin was down to 29% of the public compared to 55% a year previously. Similarly, numbers of people donating via a charity shop  had decreased to 28% compared to 43% in 2019. Meanwhile, only 12% of people had donated via buying a raffle ticket compared to 28% of the public in 2019. 

However, while the pandemic restrictions may have hit face-to-face donating opportunities, giving online or via direct debit had increased to 25% and 28% respectively.

“It is interesting to see that while more traditional ways of donating have not been possible due to the restrictions in place, the people of Northern Ireland remain generous, which shows just how important charities and their work are to the public," added Mrs Lappin.

“Local people obviously have a lot of respect for Northern Ireland’s charities and I hope the work of the Commission will help to reaffirm that public confidence and trust in charities.”

The research was undertaken between July and September 2020 and was conducted with a representative sample of 800 adults in Northern Ireland. This was part of the UK-wide Celtic Charity Awareness Monitor survey.'s picture
by Shauna O'Neill

Information Officer

[email protected]

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