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Talking About Charities 2006

January 11, 200711 January 2007

Volunteers & donors / Nonprofit sector information

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Based on a national telephone survey of 3,864 Canadians 18 or older, this report finds that “Canadians continue to hold their charities in high esteem, with high levels of trust in charities and those who lead them”. Almost all respondents (93%) agree that “charities are important to Canadians”. In addition, 76% of respondents believe that “charities understand the needs of Canadians better than the government does”, while 70% believe that “charities do a better job meeting the needs of Canadians than government does”.

Overall, 79% of respondents have “a lot” or “some” trust in charities. However, arts charities are trusted by only 61% of Canadians, higher only than international development organizations (57%).

The survey results show that about two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe that charities do not have sufficient funds to meet their objectives. A large majority of respondents (79%) “feel that charities are generally honest about the way they use donations”. However, many Canadians have concerns with regard to fundraising, with 87% of respondents indicating that “more attention should be paid to the way charities raise money”. Respondents were evenly split as to whether “there should be a legal limit set on the amount of money charities can spend on fundraising”.

Most Canadians feel that charities should disclose more information to the public, including information about the use of donations, the programs and services delivered, fundraising costs, and the impacts of charitable work. A majority of respondents feel that charities currently do not do a good job providing information about their impacts, use of donations and fundraising costs.

For potential donors, the most common sources of information include a charity’s website, a charity regulator’s website, a telephone call with the charity, and the charity’s financial statements.

There is fairly strong support for charities taking a stronger role in advocacy, with nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) indicating “that the laws should be changed to permit charities to advocate more freely for the causes in which they are involved”. Many respondents (63%) indicated “that the opinions that charities express on issues of public concern do have value because they represent a public interest perspective”.

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