A new report by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has confirmed that public trust and confidence in charities remains strong.
The ACNC’s two-year Public Trust and Confidence report found that 86% of Australians trusted charities, and 91% currently support them by volunteering or donating.
Overall, charities are the fifth most trusted institution in Australia, after doctors, police, the High Court, and the Australian Taxation Office.
Women and older Australians were slightly more likely to trust charities; however, the results were high across all age groups.
Acting ACNC Commissioner, Murray Baird, welcomed the findings.
“Charities provide vital services and support to our communities,” Mr Baird said.
“However, this work would not be possible without the generosity of Australians, who contribute $11.2 billion in donations and bequests annually.
“In addition to money, Australians also give their time. Last year charities benefited from the support of 3 million volunteers, which equates to billions of dollars in value.
“The ACNC’s 2017 Public Trust and Confidence report, the third of its kind, shows that trust and reputation are increasingly important factors that drive generosity.
“The report found that trust is underpinned by transparency – with 76% of Australians stating that it is important that they know how charities use their donated dollar.”
Acting Commissioner Baird encouraged donors to search the ACNC Charity Register, which holds an unprecedented amount of information about Australia’s registered charities.
“Since the ACNC was established in December 2012, the level of transparency across the sector has increased significantly due to the introduction of the ACNC Charity Register.
“Each year registered charities are required to submit an Annual Information Statement and charities with annual revenue above $250,000 are also required to provide financial reports. This information is published on the ACNC Charity Register, which members of the public can access free of charge.
“Pleasingly, the latest Public Trust and Confidence report found that Australians believe that the ACNC Charity Register is very important.
“This is supported by figures reported in our 2016-17 annual report, which found that ACNC Charity Register searches have increased every year since the ACNC was established.”
Acting Commissioner Baird explained that the ACNC was established in part to maintain and enhance public trust and confidence in the Australian charity sector.
“To set a benchmark we published the first Public Trust and Confidence report in 2013, and repeated it in 2015,” Mr Baird said.
“In 2013 and 2015 the overall measure of trust and confidence was very high, with scores of 89% and 90% respectively. In 2017, this figure is still remarkably high, coming in at 86%.
“Our research found that the small decline in the overall measure of trust is similar to the experience of other jurisdictions where a dedicated charity regulator was established over the past decade.
“Recent media reports alleging misconduct by charities are also likely to have negatively impacted on the reputation of the sector in general.
“However, the ACNC can confirm that the overwhelming majority of charities are doing the right thing.
“And where we have found evidence of misconduct by charities, we have and will continue to take firm action to protect charitable funds and beneficiaries.”
Australians trust charities: new ACNC report (ACNC Media Release)
The latest Public Trust and Confidence report is available at .