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84% support for tougher action against charities in event of wrongdoing

The Charities Regulator has published the results of public polling on donations and the regulation of charities.

84% OF PEOPLE would support tougher action against charities in the event of wrongdoing, a new survey indicates.

The Charities Regulator has published the results of polling of a representative sample of 2,000 adults on charity donations in the last year, as well as the public’s views as the regulation of charities.

80% of respondents said the Charities Regulator should ensure that Irish charities operate legally, transparently, and ethically and make relevant financial information publicly available.

Almost 40% were very concerned that regulation is not having any effect and that greater transparency would help to improve regulation, while 84% supported tougher action by the Regulator in cases of wrongdoing by a charity.

In a statement, Chief Executive Helen Martin said that “a charity’s annual report to the Charities Regulator is an important means for registered charities to provide basic information to the Regulator and the public on their finances and activities in the previous year”.

“We would strongly encourage all registered charities to ensure that they submit their annual reports on time to ensure that they play their part in further enhancing the amount and quality of data available on the Register,” she said.

The survey identified a hierarchy of trust levels, with small local charities tending to attract the highest level of trust. Larger national and international charities received a more neutral level of trust.

A potential donor researching a charity before deciding to donate would look at the charity’s website (38%), online media reports about the charity (33%) and check whether the organisation is on the Register of Charities (33%).

The proportion of donors who do not look into a charity before donating has declined from 23% to 17% over the past two years.

Nearly a quarter of respondents said the reason they supported a specific charity was because they “know it is well run”.

Overall, the research found that nine out of ten adults donated to a charity over the last year. While financial contributions to charities fell from 74% to 59%, donations of goods rose from 43% to 57%.

The types of charities that received the strongest support over the past 12 months were medical or health related (44%), homeless or refuge services (43%), local community organisations (41%), children or youth services (29%) and animal rescue or welfare (29%).

84% of people polled felt that charities and their work in Irish society are important, while three-quarters believed that the impact of charities is significant.

Charity Donation Types Charities Regulator Charities Regulator

A personal interest or a connection to a charity or issue is still single largest influence (58%) for deciding which charity to support. The second largest influence is news and media reports about a charity (13%). 

Martin said that the survey results “underscore the huge generosity of the Irish public when it comes to charitable giving”.

“But the survey also shows the vital role that trust, and transparency play in the charitable sector. The general public want to know how their donations are used, and to see evidence of what has been achieved by the particular charity that they have donated to,” she said.

“Providing clear details on these two areas would create improved levels of trust and confidence amongst 90% of the population, the survey found.

“We would urge the public to always check the Register of Charities on our website before making a donation to any Irish charity. The Register has a record of every charity in Ireland with information on their finances and activities taken from their annual reports to the Charities Regulator.”

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