Donating to Charity

A new independent survey has provided some new insights on the public’s attitude to charities in Ireland today.  The representative sample of 1,000 adults was carried out by Amárach Research in March.


In recent years surveys have reflected a high level of distrust of charities.  However this 2019 survey has suggested that some limited progress has been made improving trust levels.  The results reveal that 30% of the public now have some level of trust in charities –up 8 % on the comparable 2017 figure.  Those indicating some level of distrust fell from 47% to 41% in the same period.  29% had no view.

Scott Kelley, Interim CEO of Charities Institute Ireland, commented on the findings today. “Over the last few years the levels of trust towards the charity sector have stabilized, these new findings released today have seen a moderate rise in trust levels. There is now more public awareness of the principles and responsibilities of a charity operating to best practice standards and communicating this information to their donors. While there is a long way to go to fully restore public confidence, the entire sector is working hard to make this happen,” he said.


Improving communication could hold the key to increasing trust levels -57% of respondents think Irish charities don’t do enough to build trust with their donors, while only 23% feel they know what charities do with the money they donate.  Two thirds of respondents want to hear more from charities about how they use donations

Public’s view on pay in charity

The survey revealed some apparently contradictory views on pay within the charity sector.  While 71% agreed that charities should get the best professionals to work for them, this falls to 51% when asked if charities needed to pay competitive wages to get the best people to work for them.

In general, 45% felt that wages in the sector are too high.

How we donate

The survey revealed some interesting variances in how the public donate to charities.  Church/street or shopping centre collections are the most popular, especially with those over 55 where almost half (48%) prefer this method. 

16% of all adults have a standing order for a charity but this way of donating is almost twice as popular (29%) with the over 55 year olds.

Technology is also playing a role -20% donate through websites and 11% donate via text, compared to just 5% by post.

Donating at Christmas

Over a third (35%) of respondents said that they made a specific donation in response to a Christmas appeal in 2018-broadly similar to previous years.  Of those who donate almost 7 in 10 (69%) contributed the same amount as in 2017 while just 24% donated more.

Gerard O’Neill, Chairman of Amárach Research, says: "Our research shows a steady improvement in levels of trust among donors to Irish charities, up from a low point in 2015-2016.  Donors continue to engage with charities across multiple channels including digital, but face-to-face interactions are still key to encouraging donations and support.  People continue to have unrealistic expectations about the operation of charities in Ireland, expecting professional services for the price of voluntary efforts. So the sector as a whole needs work harder to inform donors about the complexities and challenges facing those running Irish charities in the 21st century".

Full details on the survey are available here.

This research piece is the 4th annual tracker for the charity sector and is supported by An Post.


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