NICVA Public Perception Survey – Identifies high levels of public usage and trust in community & voluntary sector

New research published by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) has revealed both high levels of public usage and trust in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland.
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Service Use

NICVA’s 2017 Public Perception Survey (carried out as part of Kantar Millward Brown’s Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey) found that nine in ten respondents (90%) had used a charitable or voluntary service in the past twelve months. Based on the Northern Ireland adult population, this was found to equate to 1,326,722 people, and is suspected (given current population trends and demand) to rise to approximately 1,471,655 by 2040.

High levels of usage were found to cut across all major demographics including age, gender, marital status, location and social class, with the highest levels identified with those from higher income backgrounds (93%), those aged 50-64 (92%) and people who are married or living with a partner (93%).

Benefits & Essentialness of Service

In total, 83% of all respondents believed that they have gained a benefit from a charity or voluntary service in the last 12 months. This was found to be highest amongst higher income groups (86%), those who are single (84%) and those living in the south of Northern Ireland (88%).

One in eight (13%) respondents felt that the services provided by charities and voluntary organisations were ‘essential’ to their lives, whilst nearly two-thirds (63%) believed that these services were ‘important’ to their lives. Overall, approximately 1,120,344 people in Northern Ireland reported that charitable and voluntary services play at least an important role in their lives.

Further to this, it was found that those from lower income groups (17%) and those living in the most deprived areas (24%), though they reported lower levels of usage, were more likely on average to view the services as being essential to their everyday lives.

For instance, 24% of those living in the most deprived regions of Northern Ireland identified the services they use as being essential to their lives; twice as high as those living in the least deprived regions (12%).

Furthermore, those living in Belfast were amongst the most likely to report services as being essential (21%), whilst those living in the north of Northern Ireland were least likely (4%).

Public Perception & Trust

Overall, when asked, more than two-fifths (45%) of respondents considered charities and voluntary organisations to be the most informed to speak out about issues facing society. This was significantly higher than other groups and organisations listed including: MPs and MLAs (16%), Councillors (13%) and the Media (7%). 

Regarding total mentions, charities and voluntary organisations received the most respondent mentions compared to the other listed organisations (70%). Councillors and MPs and MLAs received the second and third most mentions respectively (53% and 44%), whilst civil servants and think tanks received the fewest mentions (17% and 13% respectively). 

For more information on these findings, please contact Andrea Thornbury, [email protected]/ 02890 877777
The survey results dataset can be found on the NICVA Data Portal