The majority of Australians have engaged with the charity sector in the past year. Charitable support was based on the knowledge there would be a clear and measurable outcome and an understanding that a high proportion of funds donated would contribute towards the cause. This is particularly important, as Australians recognise the positive contribution and influence charities have on society.
Australians donate to charities primarily for the perceived importance of the cause, the ‘feel good’ factor and a sense of duty to provide for those less fortunate. As such, it can be devastating for an individual to learn their commitment of time and money has gone towards an untrustworthy organisation.
There are underlying expectations as to how a charity should act and behave. Australians trust charities to ensure they are ethical and honest in their fundraising activities. It is perceived as equally important that charities are well-managed, efficient and deliver on their stated objectives.
Over time, there has been a significant decline in trust in the charity sector; driven by a reduction in the number of people who claim to have a high level of trust as they move towards a more neutral position. This is best seen with the reduction in the number of people who believe most charities are trustworthy rather than being outright distrustful.
A key objective of the ACNC is to maintain, protect and enhance trust in the charity sector. Transparency was found to be an essential factor for developing and maintaining trust, echoed in both the quantitative and qualitative research. To this end, Australians think it is important for a charity to provide information regarding donation use, proportion of funds spent towards the cause and overall impact. It is understood that charities are currently not ‘very good’ at providing this information.