How to be a trustworthy Charity

Last month the Charity Commission published its Trust in Charities, 2018 report. While the big headlines were around public trust in charities decreasing to its lowest point for more than ten years, the focus of the report is actually on what trust really means for the charity sector, and what charities can do to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

The Charity Commission report shows that building a reputation of trust is crucial when asking the general public for support. In our State of the Membership report, we found that funding and sustainability of the sector is the number one challenge facing our members. So we want to examine the findings, and work with our members to build trust in the youth sector to better support their funding streams.

From the report, broadly speaking, the public want to know some fairly straightforward things before they consider parting with their money and making a charitable donation, so they ask the following three questions:

What has your charity actually achieved in relation to your mission?

A massive 36 per cent of respondents said that “making a positive difference to the cause [charities] are working for” elicits trust.

If you cannot show that the work you are doing is having a beneficial effect, the public will be less likely to value your efforts.

At UK Youth we do all we can to demonstrate our impact on the lives of young people, with 88% of young people on our programmes reporting improved life skills. We also share best practice and advice with our network and encourage a collaborative approach to measure impact across the sector. But we are always trying to think of new ways to showcase our achievements and the great work of our members. If you’re a UK Youth member with some great stories of young people excelling then please do get in touch to let us know.

Have you managed your resources and donations responsibly?

The report tells us that the number one factor that makes charities trusted is “Ensuring that a reasonable proportion of donations make it to end cause.”

It is therefore vital to have good governance practices in place, including honesty and transparency about your costs and where the money goes. The more resources that directly go to improving the opportunities of young people, the better. We are helping our members to enhance their good governance by providing resources and policy leadership.

For every £1 donated to UK Youth, 85p is spent on direct delivery with young people across the UK (in 2016/17 this was £4.8m). Like many charities, the remaining 15p helps raise our next £1 as well as supporting our work with members, communications and policy.

Does your organisational culture support your charitable purposes?

Overwhelmingly, the top reason given among those who do donate to charity is that they “believe in the cause that the charity supports.”

Commitment to your stated principles is key to showing how seriously you take your charitable goals. It’s no use advocating for youth empowerment, enhanced opportunities for young people, and greater awareness for issues affecting young people if you do not address these concerns in your own organisation.

Young people are at the heart of everything we do at UK Youth. We champion the voice of young people via youth engagement in all our work and build a culture of youth engagement. As well as supporting our members to involve young people in decision making, we take direction from our national steering board UK Youth Voice, which is made up of young people aged 16-25 who represent every region and nation of the UK. UK Youth Voice sets the policy priorities of UK Youth, as seen in the UK Youth Voice Manifesto.

Trust Matters

Ultimately trust matters to the general public. They want to see that the Charity Commission is regulating the sector effectively. It’s not enough to simply state that you are doing good work for a good cause – the public demands demonstrable impact and evidence. Once again, please do let us know if you have great examples of your organisation achieving and surpassing its goals.

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