Sector reputation falls, project starts promoting positive news

Polling agency YouGov has produced new ‘Charity Reputation Research’.

Civil Society News reporting on its launch says

The majority of the public believe that the media accusations made against charities and third-party suppliers over the last 12 months have been fair, according to a YouGov poll.

Only 38 per cent of respondents to the February 2016 survey said they agreed that charities were trustworthy, compared with 54% in 2013. And 62% were thought that the behaviour of large charities in the last year had “damaged the reputation of the sector as a whole”.

An NCVO article from its Director of Public Policy puts forward a sector perspective to these findings. Some extracts:

Perhaps of most concern is that for those who think coverage in the media has been fair, a substantial majority believe that large charities have not taken the accusations seriously. So, not only are we on the wrong side of public opinion, we are complacent in response.


YouGov’s research has found that, more than anything else, the public want more transparency. I believe that this now requires serious thought and a need to move on from arguments that transparency is an unnecessary cost.

Positive charity voices

The Constructive Voices project, set up by NCVO, has now gone live. The project recognises that the voluntary sector has many positive stories to tell and practical solutions to offer, across a huge range of issues, and is working to link charities and journalists, and to encourage constructive journalism.

As a new initiative it is initially focusing on a few themes, adding more as the project grows. If you’re working in one of the following areas, Constructive Voices can help you link up with journalists;

  • Building cohesive communities
  • Combatting domestic violence
  • Encouraging youth volunteering
  • Fostering positive mental health
  • Growing old positively
  • Promoting LGBT equality
  • Reducing reoffending

The project is compiling its own databank of case studies in specific key areas, as well as collaborating with CharityComms, which runs the AskCharity service.

See NCVO item ‘Helping charities get their stories heard‘ or follow their Twitter account @ConstructiveVox.


A separate initiative, the week-long #CharityIs campaign will kick off on 14th March (the campaign web page goes live on 7th March). Promoted by Charity Bank, and asking ‘What does charity mean to you?’, they want to switch the public’s focus from the negative to the positive.

Taking part is a chance to raise your profile by speaking up for the sector as a whole. It’s an opportunity to challenge cynicism and to reflect the work you and the people you work with do. And the best part? It’s seriously simple to get involved.

More reading

Sector consultancy nfpSynergy has a recent article ‘Media scrutiny of charities is going to continue – and what to do about it‘. Thoughts from its autumn 2015 Journalist’s Attitudes and Awareness Monitor plus “three things all charity media teams must do to not just survive, but thrive, in 2016”.