Charities continue to enjoy high levels of trust, but need to be better at telling their story

    EDMONTON, Oct. 19 /CNW/ - Charities continue to enjoy high levels of
trust, according to a study released today, but need to be better at telling
Canadians about how they operate.
    The Muttart Foundation, a private foundation based in Edmonton, today
released Talking About Charities 2008, a national public-opinion poll
conducted for it by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs. This was the fourth iteration
of the study, with previous reports being released in 2000, 2004 and 2006.
    Almost 3,900 people took part in a 20-minute telephone survey asking
about charities and issues affecting charities. With a sample of this size,
results are considered to be accurate to within a margin of 1.6%, 19 times out
of 20.
    More than three-quarters of respondents said they trust charities "some"
or "a lot," a number that's held steady over the four iterations of the study.
The same 77% of respondents said they had "a lot" or "some" trust in leaders
of charities - a level that places charity leaders behind only nurses and
medical doctors.
    But the study also raised some issues that should be of concern to the
charitable sector, according to Muttart Foundation president Marion Gracey.
    After respondents were asked about how much trust they had in charities -
a lot, some, a little or none - they were asked why they responded as they
did. Respondents were then divided into two groups, those who reported a lot
of trust in charities and those who gave some other answer.
    Slightly more than 2,700 respondents were in the latter group, saying
they had some trust, a little trust or no trust at all in charities. When
asked why, 30% of them said because they weren't sure where the money is
really going.
    "This is a number that should give us serious cause for concern," said
Mrs. Gracey. "The use of charitable donations, and other revenue, is a
fundamental issue for charities. To have this many people say they aren't sure
where the money is really going underlines the importance of charities
becoming better at telling their story."
    Consistent with results in previous iterations, respondents said there
continues to be a significant gap in how charities perform at providing
information about essential aspects of their operation.
    Almost all respondents - 96 to 98% - said it was important that charities
provide information on how they use donations, the programs and services they
deliver, their fundraising costs, and the impact of their work on Canadians.
    Yet, only 29% say that charities do an excellent or good job of providing
information about how they use donations, 26% said they did an excellent or
good job of providing information about their fundraising costs, 38% said they
did an excellent or good job of providing information about the impact of
their works and only one half said they did an excellent or good job of
providing information about the programs and services they deliver.
    "Canada's 83,000-plus charities have an important role in the country,"
said Bob Wyatt, executive director of The Muttart Foundation. "They are
operating in almost every community, in a variety of endeavours, all aimed at
ensuring a high quality of life. They have an incredible story to tell, but
the results say they aren't doing a good enough job of telling it."
    The importance of charities is something that clearly resonates with
respondents. Of the 3,863 people interviewed, 93% said that charities are
important to Canadians, while 85% said charities generally improve our quality
of life. Three-quarters of respondents said that charities understand the
needs of Canadians better than government does, while 70% said charities are
better than government at meeting the needs of Canadians.
    Respondents also said they believe that the views of charities on issues
of public concern should be listened to. Sixty-four per cent of respondents
said that such opinions have value because they represent a public-interest
perspective. About one-third disagreed, saying that such opinions don't have
value because they only represent the perspective of a particular interest
    The full text of Talking About Charities 2008 is available on The Muttart
Foundation's website at <a href=""></a>. The website also contains breakdowns
of results by provinces and by various demographic groups.

For further information:

For further information: Bob Wyatt, Executive Director, The Muttart
Foundation, at (780) 913-8881, or by e-mail at

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