Explaining Trust in Canadian Charities: The Influence of Public Perceptions of Accountability, Transparency, Familiarity and Institutional Trust

  • Megan M. Farwell
  • Micheal L. Shier
  • Femida Handy
Original Paper


Public trust of nonprofits can augment social benefits of the nonprofit sector by enhancing engagement of the general population in the sector. This study analyzed cross sectional data collected from a random sample of Canadians (n = 3853) to test the effects of respondents’ perceptions of financial accountability, transparency, and familiarity of charitable nonprofits, along with the effects of trust in key institutions on their general trust in charitable nonprofits. Results show that each factor (except for trust in government institutions) has a significant effect on the level of trust respondents had in charitable nonprofits. The study helps advance our understanding of what contributes to trust in charitable nonprofits among Canadians and offers suggestions on how nonprofits can garner greater trust with the population.


Trust Nonprofit Charity Accountability Transparency Familiarity 



We are grateful to have this data which were made available to us by generosity of the Muttart Foundation (Canada) and Imagine Canada. The authors are very grateful to the Muttart Foundation and Imagine Canada for the use of their 2013 dataset.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan M. Farwell
    • 1
  • Micheal L. Shier
    • 2
  • Femida Handy
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Policy and PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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