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Public perception of charities: tale of two datasets

Combining datasets can reveal a depth of detail.

One of the many benefits of Open Data is that users are free to combine and explore similarities between overlapping datasets.

nfpSynergy recently shared with us some results data from their Celtic Charity Awareness Monitor (CCAM), where those surveyed in Northern Ireland (in April/May 2015) were asked about their feelings of trust towards certain institutions, including charities. The respondents (802 people) were asked to rate how much they trusted a number of different institutions.

Coincidentally, when NICVA surveyed a sample of Northern Ireland's population (1106 people) through the Ipsos Mori NI Omnibus in August 2014, those people were asked a number of questions about how they viewed charities in Northern Ireland, including a similar question that asked about their feelings of trust and confidence about some of the same groups as nfpSynergy asked about, such as the Assembly, government, local councils, and of course, charities.

Because these two datasets are open data we can combine some of the responses to create an even clearer picture. This was fairly straightforward as the rating options (from 1 to 5) were identical across the two surveys.

The scores of these are shown below. Results from nfpSynergy are shown in green, while NICVA's are in blue (note that the lower the average score the greater the level of trust).

Average trustworthiness levels of institutions among those survey (nfpSynergy and NICVA surveys)

So while institutions such as schools (in general), the NHS, Royal Mail and charities are seen in quite a trustworthy light by people in NI, the media, UK Parliament and NI Assembly in particular see greater levels of mistrust, on average.

There is a slight difference in how the results came out between the two surveys, but they are relatively successful in achieving broadly similar results where the questions can be matched. There are two outside factors at play, however: the difference in time between the surveys, and NICVA asked about local charities specifically, whereas nfpSynergy asked about charities in general, which could include UK/international organisations. It's also important to point out that while some of these are single organisations (e.g. BBC, NI Assembly) some of the others (including charities, banks and insurance companies) are industry groups, and that a person's feeling of trust towards one single organisation may differ wildly from their view of another in the same industry.

You can explore the full results by the level of trust respondents felt in this histogram.

Concentrating solely on charities then, what type of person is likely to be more trusting, and who is likely to be less trusting? We can use the socio-economic data from each dataset, and combine them to get an even better picture than the two datasets on their own, from a total of 1818 people. That's a relatively big sample for a survey of this kind.

Trust in Charities: profiles, from combined nfpSynergy and NICVA surveys

So, those who trust charities are more likely to be female and live in an urban area. While trust tends to be higher among the youngest age group (16-24), it is fairly even across the remaining ages, though mistrust does seem to increase as people age. They say that you get more cynical as you get older and it seems to be true!

There's much more information about charities from NICVA's public perceptions of charities survey data, held on this Portal, including important factors in how people perceive charities, and what charities can do to increase trust and confidence. Check it out.