Philanthropy

Declining Trust in Charities

More evidence from Give.org, which also notes some trends worth attention


From December 2017 through December 2019, the percentage of respondents to Give.org’s Donor Trust Surveys saying they highly trust charities overall in America decreased moderately, from 19% to 17%, according to the comprehensive Donor Trust Report 2020: The Pandemic and a Three-Year Retrospective released by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance last month.

Low Level of Trust

We at The Giving Review have speculated about the reasons for this relatively low level of trust. The new Give.org survey of more than 2,100 people is further evidence of the sorry state of trust in the nonprofit sectors, and it uncovers other trends and data points that are also worth attention by those who care about nonprofitdom.

During the December 2017-December 2019 time period, for example, the portion of respondents that highly trust civil-rights and community-action organizations in particular decreased meaningfully, from 25% to 13%—the largest decline for any charitable sub-group. The decline in those highly trusting religious organizations was the next largest, from 32% to 26%.

The substantially decreasing trust in civil-rights and community-action groups is documented in the Donor Trust Report 2020 report just as the country’s philanthropic establishment is in the midst of substantially increasing its support of these groups.

Other Differences

“Different racial groups tend to place their trust in different charity types,” moreover, according to the report. “For instance, while civil rights and community action organizations are among the least trusted charity types overall, these organizations are among the most trusted by African Americans.

“Different generations also tend to place their trust in different charity types,” the report continues. “For instance, while civil rights and community action organizations are among the least trusted charity types overall, these organizations are among the most trusted by Gen Z,” those aged 18 to 35.

“The top-three most trusted categories of charities in August 2020 by Matures,” those older than 65, “are (1) religious organizations, (2) health organizations, and (3) veterans organizations,” it goes on. “For Gen Zers, the top three are (1 and 2) a tie between youth development and civil rights and community action organizations, followed by (3) animal welfare organizations.”

There’s another number that should certainly be attention-getting in the sector, too. Give.org’s survey finds that 26% of Gen Zers say they are “dissatisfied with traditional charitable donations,” the report notes.

 

This article first appeared in the Giving Review on December 2, 2020.

Tags: philanthropy

Michael E. Hartmann

Michael E. Hartmann is CRC’s senior fellow and director of the Center for Strategic Giving, providing analysis of and commentary about philanthropy and giving. He…
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