Political party rosettes

Changing the theme tune #GE2015

By Sue Wixley 8 May 2015

As we nurse our election party hangovers, it’s worth pondering what voters of different political hues think about charities. It’s too early to tell how the choices made by voters in the General Election will affect the sector, but it is unlikely that such a dramatic shift in political fortunes will leave charities untouched. At the very least, the mood music has changed.

Here are a few points to ponder from our Matter of trust and Mind the gap polling with Ipsos MORI last year, which explored trust in charities and what drives it.

Charity sceptics gain ground

Conservative voters, who won their party a stonking majority yesterday, have a slight tendency to be more negative about charities than Labour supporters. Around a third Conservative voters (33%) rated charities five or less out of ten for trust. (Some commentators say the new government will be anything but pro-charity.)

Meanwhile UKIP supporters, who saw an uptick in terms of votes yesterday (even if it didn’t translate into many seats), were the most negative of all—more than half of UKIP supporters (53%) declare low trust in charities.

Lib Dem voters tend to be much more enthusiastic than others about charities, with just 24% show low levels of trust in charities. But after yesterday’s results. the party is picking itself off the floor and eating hats (or not).

We are still learning more about how Scottish National Party voters see charities, although it looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s supporters who won more seats in Parliament than ever before, might be quite grumpy about charities.

This much we know

When it comes to what drives trust in charities, voters of different persuasions care about different things:

  • The majority of Conservative supporters (55%) and substantial majority of UKIP supporters (67%) think that charities should stay away from campaigning and ‘concentrate on helping people in need’. Just 21% of Conservatives and 16% of UKIP-ers disagree. Opinion is much more evenly split for Labour supporters (32% agree and 38% disagree) and Lib Dem voters (41% agree and 34% disagree).
  • Conservative voters seem sanguine about whether charities deliver public services, especially compared with Labour supporters. Only 11% of Conservative voters picked this issue as a concern vs 34% of Labour voters. (Take a look at James Noble’s blog on this.)
  • When asked whether they prefer to donate to local, national or international charities, the two groups of people who most preferred local organisations over others were Conservatives (47%) and Scottish people (48%).
  • Around 22% of Conservative voters agree that charity bosses ‘should be paid as much as people who run similar size organisations in the public and private sectors’, 44% disagree.
  • Spending ‘too much money abroad’ is a concern for almost three times as many UKIP voters (48%) compared to others. Just 16% of Lib Dems, for example, think this is an issue to be concerned about.

We’ll know more as the new Cabinet is formed and appointments are made in areas that charities really care about such as education, health, criminal justice and international development. At NPC, we’re keeping a very close eye on what happens with the Minister for Civil Society post—who gets it and whether it gets beefed up as we argued in our manifesto that it should be.

In the meantime, we’ll be getting used to the new theme tune.