An independent report published today has found that regulation encourages confidence in the Scottish charity sector, with 95% of the public in Scotland saying that the role of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is ‘essential’ or ‘important’.
In addition, those aware of OSCR are more likely to have trust and confidence in the work of charities. The Regulator has welcomed the findings, and has called on charities to actively promote the fact that they are regulated by OSCR.
OSCR’s ‘External Stakeholder Research 2011′ was carried out by research organisation TNS-BMRB, surveying 1,018 members of the public and 1,139 Scottish charities to gauge views on the sector and its regulation.
The report found high levels of interest in the work of charities in Scotland among the public, with only 22% expressing little or no interest. Chief concerns about charities were financial, with calls for greater transparency as to how money was spent. Some 80% agreed with the statement: ‘it’s good to know that OSCR is there looking after the charity sector’.
Among charities, well over half (60%) said that they would welcome the opportunity to file their accounts and returns to OSCR online when the service becomes available in the Autumn, with two thirds (66%) agreeing that OSCR should highlight late submissions on the Scottish Charity Register. Some 89% agree that completing OSCR’s documentation is ‘now part and parcel of what they do’.
Key findings from the public were as follows:
- The public has a high degree of interest in charities and their work, with only 22% indicating a lack of interest and 89% saying they had donated to a charity in the last year
- Two thirds of the public say that the current economic climate has made ‘no difference’ to the amount of money they have donated, while 25% say they have donated less
- 95% of the public believe that OSCR’s role is essential, very important, or fairly important, with 71% agreeing that knowing about OSCR and its role gives them more trust in charities
- The chief concerns expressed about charities were financial, with 38% stating ‘I don’t know how they spend their money’.
Among charities, key findings were as follows:
- As in earlier years, financial issues were of chief concern for charities, including running costs, funding cuts or reduced donations
- Charities themselves are actively addressing such issues, with 57% consulting Third Sector support organisations and 22% parent or umbrella bodies: 80% were satisfied with the help they received
- Opinions of OSCR were very positive, with 88% trusting OSCR to treat charities fairly and 83% agreeing that OSCR’s communication with them was excellent, very good or good
- 60% said that they intend to submit their returns online, with 18% saying they would not.
OSCR’s Chief Executive Jane Ryder welcomed the findings, saying that the survey results demonstrated high levels of satisfaction and trust, but also provided ‘useful lessons’ for the charity sector and the Regulator.
‘These are very positive findings and demonstrate both our impact on the governance of the sector, and the view of the public that regulation is necessary,’ she said. ‘We are seeing ever increasing levels of compliance among Scottish charities, with the quality of the accounts submitted improving year on year, and it is clear that such work encourages public confidence in the sector. Our hope is that charities themselves will therefore promote the fact that they are regulated by OSCR, and positively encourage the public to check their details in the Scottish Charity Register.
‘The survey results also underline the arguments we have made for the arrival of online filing of returns and accounts and enhanced information for the public, later this year,’ she added. ‘OSCR Online will make reporting easier for charities and will see additional financial information about charities published on the Scottish Charity Register, including whether returns were submitted on time.’
The report, together with information about OSCR Online, is available at www.oscr.org.uk
Issued by OSCR, Quadrant House, 9 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY. For further information, contact Mark Simpson or Morag Stewart at OSCR on 01382 220446 or 07920 274498 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- OSCR is the independent regulator and registrar for Scotland’s 23,500 charities. OSCR publishes the Scottish Charity Register at www.oscr.org.uk
- OSCR’s vision is for a flourishing charity sector in which the public has confidence, underpinned by OSCR’s effective delivery of its regulatory role.
- The surveys identify current attitudes and apparent issues and inform OSCR’s policy development as a proportionate regulator. The surveys were conducted by TNS-BMRB, an independent research organisation.
- The charity survey was conducted through an online and paper-based self completion questionnaire using a representative random sample of Scottish charities. A total of 1,139 survey forms were completed.
- The public survey was conducted through a TNS-BMRB Omnibus Survey involving 1,018 in-home interviews in 70 constituency-based sampling points. The sample was weighted to be representative of the adult population in terms of age, sex and class.