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Research news and events

Launch of public trust and confidence in charities research 2021

New research into public trust and confidence in Northern Ireland’s charities was launched by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland in June 2021.

The research, conducted by an independent agency on behalf of the Commission, gathered the views on charities of 1,500 adults. The research report and a recording of the live launch are available here.

Nicole Lappin, Chief Charity Commissioner, commented: “I firmly believe that public trust and confidence is a key part of the success of each and every charity in Northern Ireland, as well as the charity sector as a whole.

“Many charities depend on the goodwill and awareness of their supporters, their funders and the wider public. This research will not only show the levels of public trust and confidence in charities in 2021, but also what influences those levels and how they can be improved.

“I very much hope this unique data will inspire some interesting conversations and perhaps spark new ideas and innovations for the future.”



Northern Ireland’s charities amongst the most trusted in the UK, according to research

Almost 80% of people in Northern Ireland have a medium to high level of trust and confidence in charities, according to research from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Launched on Tuesday 6 September 2016 by Communities Minister, Paul Givan MLA, the research revealed an average trust “score” of 6.2, indicating that Northern Ireland’s charities inspire the trust and confidence of the public.

This compared favourably to England and Wales, where the average score has decreased from 6.7 in 2014 to 5.7 in 2016, highlighting Northern Ireland charities as amongst the most trusted in the UK.

For more information and to view the full research visit our Research reports page. You can also view the Commission's research animation on YouTube by clicking here (external link).

The public trust and confidence research launch was also covered on the Focal Point programme, which aired in NVTV on 7 September 2016. You can view this coverage, with the launch featuring at approximately 7.40minutes into the programme at (external link).



Charities SORP research exercise launched

An invitation to comment on how the new Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) can be further improved, has been launched

Views are sought on:

  • the SORP’s structure, format and accessibility
  • implementation issues that require improvements to the SORP
  • SORP Committee members’ suggestions for changes to the SORP
  • charity regulator themes for making changes to the SORP
  • your ideas for items to remove, change or add to improve the SORP.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which together are the SORP-making body, launched the consultation on 4 May 2016.

It will close on 11 December 2016 – an extended consultation period intended to allow users of charity reports and accounts and users of the SORP a wide opportunity to take part and share their views.

For further information on the Charities SORP, to view the invitation to comment document or find out how to take part please visit the SORP micro site at



Volunteers on Management Committees 'Giving Leadership, Giving Time' to Make a Difference

In December 2015, a research report was launched, focusing on the needs and issues facing trustees within the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland. 

The Giving Leadership, Giving Time report highlights the importance of good governance in maintaining a healthy voluntary and community sector, and the pivotal role of trustees in providing leadership and accountability.

The findings will inform the sector, funders, policy makers and the Commission regarding governance issues that relate to the current and future accountability of the sector. 

The research confirms the importance of addressing not only the age imbalance in the membership of Boards and Committees, with 75% of members aged over 45, but also certain gender imbalances, with a higher proportion of chairpersons, vice chairpersons and treasurers being male and a higher proportion of secretaries being female, despite more women serving as members.

Importantly, the research also highlights good practice in charity governance and reinforces the guidance already available from the Commission and organisations such as Volunteer Now and NICVA.

The report can be downloaded from the Volunteer Now website or, alternatively, contact for a hard copy.



State of the Sector 7 - have you taken part?

NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) has launched its seventh State of the Sector survey.

The survey has been circulated to nearly 5,000 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations but if you are interested in taking part and have not received an email please contact as soon as possible.

The survey closes on Friday 20 November 2015.



Challenges and opportunities in the not-for-profit and public sectors

The inaugural Conference of the Centre for Not-for-profit and Public Sector Research is being held at Queen’s Management School, from 9am to 12.15pm, on Monday 28  September 2015.

This conference, which heralds the launch of the new Centre for Not-for-profit and Public Sector Research at Queen’s Management School, will provide insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the charity, credit union and public sectors.

It will include coverage of changes in terms of, among other things, regulation and accounting requirements, government policy, acceptable governance regimes and emerging management practices. In addition, it will enable delegates to ask questions of the main speakers and panel members.

These will include (in addition to leading members of Queen’s Management School).

  • Professor Andrew Hind CB (former Chief Executive of the Charity Commission for England and Wales and Chair of the Fundraising Standards Board) and Frances McCandless (Chief Executive, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland) on charities.
  • Bill Hampell (Chief Economist, CUNA Mutual, USA) and Brian McCrory (President, Irish League of Credit Unions) on credit unions.
  • Paul Wickens (Chief Executive, Enterprise Shared Services, Northern Ireland Civil Service) and David Cartmill (Executive Director, Chief Executives’ Forum) on the public sector.

The conference is being held at Queen’s Management School, Riddel Hall, 185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast and will begin with coffee at 9am and will finish at 12.15pm.

There is no charge to attend this event, though early registration is advised as places are limited. Please confirm your attendance with Karen McAuley via email to or telephone: 028 9097 5461.



Research project will focus on trustee roles

A new research project has launched to gauge the governance of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.

The VSB Foundation has commissioned Volunteer Now Enterprises Ltd to undertake the research project to gather information and evidence on the role of management committees/trustee boards who are pivotal in providing leadership for Northern Ireland’s voluntary and community organisations.

It is hoped the research can be used to inform the sector, funders, policy makers and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland regarding governance issues that relate to the current and future sustainability of the sector.  

The project is seeking to gather the views of voluntary and community organisations as well as, more specifically, the views of committee members/trustees. The research project has already disseminated a questionnaire to trustees/management committee members and to date over 600 responses have been received.

They are now inviting trustees/management committee members to attend a number of focus groups to provide an opportunity to discuss and share views on governance and being a trustee/management committee member.

Further information on the focus groups, including dates and locations, is available by clicking on the link below. 

Download Governance research - focus groups PDF (77.4 KB)

Due to expressions of interest in the north west an additional governance research focus group hs been arranged to give trustees in this area the opportunity to participate. This event will be held on Monday 14 September 2015, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, at the North West Volunteer Centre, 22 Bishop Street, Derry/Londonderry BT48 6PP. 

If you are interested in attending this event please respond to Wenda Gray by Thursday 20 August 2015 via email or telephone 028 9081 8313.

The last major study of the governance role of voluntary management committees in Northern Ireland was undertaken in 2003 and it is the intention of the 2015 research to:

  • revisit the 2003 research findings of Committee Matters (an assessment of the characteristics, training needs and governance roles of voluntary management committees in Northern Ireland) and compare with what governance of the voluntary and community sector looks like in 2015
  • consider if the needs of, and issues facing, management committee members/trustees have changed over the last decade.

The research project will include desk research; creation, dissemination and analysis of a questionnaire; focus groups with key stakeholders; and compilation of a final research report. The timescale for the work is January to September 2015. 

An Advisory Group chaired by John Hunter (Chairperson of Corrymeela) with representation from VSB Foundation, DSD, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, NICVA, Developing Governance Group, CO3, University of Ulster, Arts Council, NI Sports Forum, Youth Council NI, Rural Community Network ang Fermanagh Trust is providing support to the research project.

For more background information on the research project please click on the document below:

Download Background information on trustee research survey. PDF (47.9 KB)

Download Background information on organisation research survey PDF (124.4 KB)

Regulator’s new report analyses first charities to be registered in Northern Ireland

A new report by Northern Ireland’s charity regulator offers a unique insight into the first charities to be registered since compulsory charity registration began in Northern Ireland in December 2013.

The report, entitled What do charities in Norhern Ireland look like, analyses charity information held on the new register of charities as at 19 January 2015, just over a year after registration began. It is available to read or download here.


Making Life Simpler: Improving Business Regulation in NI

A report on the Review of Northern Ireland Business Red Tape, led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment (DETI), was published in November 2014.

The report, entitled Making Life Simpler: Improving Business Regulation in NI, is available on the DETI website here (external link).


Young Trustee Survey 

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), working with a young trustee ambassador, has launched the Young Trustee Survey to investigate the experiences of young trustees in the UK.

The survey follows a recommendation made last year, as part of a Parliamentary inquiry, that more young people should be given the opportunity to become charity trustees.  

Responses to the survey will be used to inform a guide sharing best practice from different schemes and programmes designed to give young people the skills and confidence needed to become trustees.

Research published by the Commission in November 2014, analysing the details of 2,407 trustees from 352 registered charities, revealed that approximately 1% of trustees fall within the 18-24 years age bracket while 2% fall within the 25-29 years age bracket.  This is considerably lower than the 2013 population estimates for Northern Ireland which put 16% of the population in the 18-29 years age band.

The survey is open until the end of 2014. For more information and to complete a response click on the following link:


New report reveals high levels of trust in charities - November 2014

People in Northern Ireland have high levels of trust and confidence in charities, according to recent research carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA). 

The research results, which have been published in the newly relaunched NICVA magazine, ScopeNI, showed that 76% of survey respondents had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in charities in Northern Ireland. You can view the article here.

Just under 90% of the population believe charities play an important role in society and more than three quarters of people either have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in them, according to the report.

However, some confusion was evident regarding which types of organisations could be charitable in law. Half of respondents recognised disability charities as such, with animal charities the second most recognised. 

However only 12% realised that universities may be charities and the lowest recognition of all, at 10%, was for those organisations involved in economic and community development and employment.

The Commission welcomes the report and will also be undertaking research in coming years on levels of trust and confidence in charities. 


First research report from new register of charities - November 2014

With over 500 charities listed on the register of charities - and more added every week - the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland published its first snapshot report from the new register on 17 November 2014.

The report, available to view online here, was created following analysis of 2,407 trustees from 352 charities registered with the Commission and has revealed some interesting results:

  • There was an even split between genders, with 1,192 female trustees (49.5%) and 1,212 (50.4%) male trustees.
  • According to the data, over one third (36%) of charity trustees are 65 years and over.
  • The average age of a charity trustee in Northern Ireland is 55 years of age and the oldest trustee in the sample is 90 years of age.
  • The report noted that the youngest trustees are 19, however, only 1% of trustees fall within the 18-24 years age bracket. 
  • The average number of trustees in a charity is seven and, based on the number of charities in Northern Ireland, this means that there could be upwards of 49,000 individual charity trustees. 

Frances McCandless, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, welcomed the report – the first which has been undertaken using data from the new register of charities, which is available to search now on 

She commented: “While the register of charities is still growing, I am delighted that we are now in a position where we can start to use and analyse some of the important data it holds on Northern Ireland’s charities."