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Talking about charities 2013

March 16, 201616 March 2016

Volunteers and donors / Non-profit sector information

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This report argues that “public trust is of central importance to Canadian charities. It underpins many key relationships: with donors, volunteers, clients, policymakers, regulators, and corporate sponsors.” Based on a telephone survey of 3,853 Canadians 18 years or older, the report finds that 79% of respondents have "a lot" or "some" trust in charities.

As noted in the report, “Canadians report more trust in charities than they do in almost all other societal institutions covered by the survey”, including trust in “local (57%), federal (45%) and provincial (44%) governments”, the media (53%), and major corporations (41%). Trust in small businesses (81%) is slightly higher than trust in charities (79%).

Trust in arts charities ranks eighth out of 11 types of charities, with 60% of Canadians indicating that they have a lot (19%) or some (41%) trust in arts charities. This is similar to trust in churches and other places of worship (59%) and higher than trust in international development organizations (50%) and religious organizations other than churches or places of worship (41%). Canadians are most likely to trust hospitals (86%), children’s charities (82%), and health promotion and health research charities (80%).

As is the case with charities in general, arts charities receive the highest levels of trust in the Atlantic provinces (all four above the Canadian average). While trust in many types of charities is lowest in British Columbia, this is not the case for arts charities, which receive trust levels in B.C. equal to the national average (60%). The only province below the national average is Ontario, where 57% of residents indicate that they have trust in arts charities.

Trust in arts charities is highest for the four age ranges under 55 and lower for the two age ranges 55 and older. There is a moderate difference between women (62% with trust in arts charities) and men (57%).

Trust in many types of charities, including those in the arts, has remained fairly consistent from prior surveys in 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Nearly all survey respondents (93%) agree that "charities are important to Canadians", and 88% believe that "charities generally improve our quality of life". However, the survey also found that 73% of Canadians believe that “charities spend too much of their funds on salaries and administration” and 68% believe that "too many charities are trying to get donations for the same cause". Respondents were asked these questions regarding all charities, not specific types.

Many respondents feel that charities can do a better job of disclosing information to the public:

  • 73% believe that charities do only a "fair" or a "poor" job of providing "information about charities' fundraising costs".
  • 70% indicate that charities do a fair or a poor job of providing "information on how charities use donations".
  • 58% believe that charities do a fair or a poor job of providing "information about the about the impact of charities' work on Canadians".
  • 43% indicate that charities do a fair or a poor job of providing "information about the programs and services the charities deliver".

Based on this information, the report concludes that “Canadians say that charities need to make significant improvements in how they tell the story of their work and its effect on the country.”

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