Why is public trust in charities and private companies so low?

On 11 July the Charity Commission published a new study indicating that public trust in charities has fallen to its lowest level since 2005. The average level of trust being at 5.5 out of 10 – less trust than people have in a man or woman on the street! It is worse for private companies, at just 5 out of 10.

Respondents were asked to indicate what factors affected their trust in charities with the following scoring highest:

– transparency about where the money goes; and

– being true to their values,

and as you would expect to hear, those with less trust were less likely to donate.

Charities are in the spotlight just now, but this matters for business too. As we work towards ever increasing transparency, customers of commercial organisations are making similarly informed choices about where they spend their money. There is also pressure on the Government to take steps to impose greater transparency on business (RSA Good Work report)

So are you clear about your organisation’s purpose and values, and do you truly live by them? Do you use those values when making business decisions, including managing employees?

        ‘hold those values close and let them guide you through the decision-         making process’

Many of the recent high-profile stories have arisen from the way in which people are treated. Some of these issues can be highly personal and difficult to manage in the heat of the moment.

All too often we see the values put to one side when there is a difficult decision to be made, but that leads to greater risk when looked at holistically. These are the moments to hold your values close and let them guide you through the decision-making process. In this way you will have a commercial decision you can justify, and in which your customers and stakeholders can have real confidence. Perhaps you would also then welcome transparency?

        ‘abandon all rules in favour of living by a set of agreed values’

We recently had the good fortune (through the UK Values Alliance) to visit Surrey Square Primary School where they have abandoned all school rules in favour of the children living by a set of agreed values. The school is most proud of making a real difference to their children’s lives, with improved results being just one of the inevitable benefits. If an adult organisation did the same, might we also see a real difference in motivation, productivity, and a sense of self worth? What an achievement that would be!

        ‘no more rules or procedures are needed – in fact perhaps less’

Our comment

This challenge is a simple one to address, no more rules or procedures are needed - in fact perhaps less. Instead with a clear focus on purpose and values we believe all organisations will truly thrive.