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Survey on public trust in the Community sector

Survey on public trust shows how fundraising impacts on confidence in the Community and Voluntary Sector

A survey showing that confidence in charitable organisations has slipped slightly is largely to do with fundraising, according to ComVoices, a network of Community and Voluntary Sector organisations.

A majority of the respondents (55%) continue to report high levels of trust and confidence in charities. However, this figure has slipped slightly from 58% in 2008.

Dave Henderson, National Coordinator of the Association of NGOs of Aotearoa (ANGOA) said the increasing public awareness of fundraising techniques and the cost of fundraising seemed to have shaken people’s confidence.

“The majority of the comments relating to the decrease in public confidence were related to fundraising and the use of donor money. The public is becoming far more aware of the cost of fundraising and more questions are justifiably asked about how much of the fundraising dollar is actually going to the organisations.”

Most respondents quoted in the survey had referred to money-related issues, including fundraising, operational use of donor money and the perceived amount of money going into campaigns and marketing.

Ros Rice, Executive Director of the New Zealand Council of Social Services (NZCOSS) said Sector organisations were more than aware of their responsibilities to their donors and to their communities.

“Reputations are fragile things and most Sector organisations, large and small, work very, very hard to maintain public trust in their services and the way their organisations are run.

“NGOs, government agencies, and the Charities Commission, have been working on a variety of accountabilities for some time. The majority of Sector organisations are fully aware of their responsibilities,” she said.

Ric Odom, YMCA New Zealand Chief Executive said the comments reflected the conundrum of most community and voluntary sector organisations in sustaining their services to the community.

“Fundraising is a double-edged sword for organisations. Most organisations in the community and voluntary sector rely on multiple funding streams to maintain services in the community. Government funding is only one part of the picture. Donations and fundraising are a significant contributor to the financial sustainability of Sector organisations, whether they are in the arts, environment, social services, culture or sport.

Robyn Scott, Chief Executive of Philanthropy NZ and a member of the Generosity Hub said the survey was useful in reinforcing the practices that encourage public confidence. The survey showed 82% of respondents were confident in charities that are open about how they use their resources.

“Transparency is a vital part of the running of any organisation, whether it is a commercial enterprise or a social enterprise. Sector organisations understand that and work hard on the reporting and capability building of their own workforce – paid or voluntary.

“And they do provide great value for money in most cases. A New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations and Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey showed that the community and voluntary groups studied returned between $3 and $5 worth of services for every $1 they received in funding,” Ms Scott said.

Tina Reid, Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (NZFVWO) said the survey needed to be read in the context of the scale and scope of the Community and Voluntary Sector.

“New Zealand’s community and voluntary sector contributes as much to our overall GDP as the construction sector. More than one million New Zealanders contribute to the Sector by donating their time to deliver vital services across a huge range of sectors.

“Every New Zealander has in some way benefited from volunteer services, whether they or their loved ones have used health and emergency services, Saturday morning sport, or community education and cultural organisations. The confidence in that network of community and voluntary sector organisations and services creates in our communities, isn’t really in question.”


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