Nonprofits Bad Reputation

Here is a lengthy article about statistics showing that some not for profit organizations are developing a bad reputation in polls by David Clayton, PhD, Vice President, Nonprofit and Social Issues Research Group, Harris Interactive.

Nonprofits Bad ReputationWhile a Third of Adults Think the Nonprofit Sector in the United States is Headed in the Wrong Direction, a Vast Majority of Households have Donated to Charities in the Past Year.

Non-profits Developing A Bad Reputation

One-third of U.S. adults (32%) have less than positive feelings toward America’s charitable organizations (1) and the same number (32%) thinks that the nonprofit sector in America has pretty seriously gotten off in the wrong direction, according to a survey by Harris Interactive.

While a majority of adults may have positive feelings toward nonprofits (68% give them a score of 51 or higher out of 100) and most (92%) households have contributed to a charity in the last year (up from 80% in October 2005), only one in 10 (10%) strongly agrees that charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their use of donated funds.

Almost half (48%) somewhat agrees with this sentiment, while slightly more than one- quarter (27%) somewhat or strongly disagrees that these organizations use donated funds honestly and ethically, and another 15 percent are not sure.

These are some of the results from the latest Harris Interactive DonorPulse survey, conducted quarterly, designed to track trends related to charity and philanthropy in the United States.

This latest survey was conducted online in the United States between January 11 and 17, 2006 among 2,720 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 2,523 donated money to a charitable organization in the past year, and 1,672 volunteered their time to a charitable organization in the past year. The next wave of the DonorPulse survey will field in May.

Financial contributions

Despite their ambivalence about the direction they see the sector headed in, the vast majority of Americans continue to make cash donations to individual nonprofit organizations. The survey also suggests that 2006 charitable contributions will remain steady based on people’s expectations of what they will give this year.

 * More than nine in 10 adults (92%) say they or someone in their householdmade a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization in the pastyear, up from 80 percent when last asked in October 2005.* About half (49%) of those who made contributions during the past yeargave less than $500, while six percent say they donated $5,000 or more.* In 2005, the largest percentages of donors gave to churches andreligious organizations (50%) and disaster relief organizations (47%),followed by community groups and programs (35%), human serviceorganizations (34%) and organizations that serve youth and children(30%).* Of those who are considering making contributions in 2006, 68 percentsay they expect to give about the same amount they did in 2005, while 17percent say they expect to give more and 16 percent say they expect togive less.

David Clayton, Vice President of the Nonprofit and Social Issues Research Group at Harris Interactive, comments, “This survey highlights the American public’s tremendous commitment to the principles of charity and philanthropy. It also suggests that nonprofits could communicate more to the public about the real improvements in individual lives and communities that their altruism translates into.”

Volunteer efforts

Some adults choose to do their part by donating their time. About two-thirds (64%) of those who have participated in a volunteer activity do so at least once per month with 36 percent volunteering on a daily or weekly basis.

Clayton goes on to say, “Even with some ambivalence and concern about some dimensions of the nonprofit sector, people are definitely showing their support as they invest significant amounts of discretionary time and money.”

Differences by age

Throughout the survey there are noticeable differences in attitudes toward charitable organizations and the amount of time and money donated by age. Some of these include:

 * Younger adults are more likely than older adults to have positivefeelings toward charitable organizations. For example, 83 percent ofthose ages 30 to 39 and 88 percent of those ages 18 to 24 givecharitable organizations a score of 51 or higher (out of 100), comparedto only 53 percent of those ages 65 and older.* One-third (33%) of those ages 65 and older somewhat or strongly disagreewith the statement that most organizations are honest and ethical intheir use of donations, compared to only 20 percent of those ages 30 to39.* Three-quarters (75%) of those ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 29 that they ormembers of their household have made a financial contribution in thepast year, compared to 95 percent of those ages 50 to 64 and 65 andolder.* Just over half (52%) of those ages 18 to 24 and 59 percent of those ages25 to 29 volunteer at least monthly, compared to 64 percent of thoseages 50 to 64 and 72 percent of those ages 65 and older.TABLE 1ATTITUDES TOWARD CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS-BY AGE"Please rate your overall feelings about nonprofit organizations,including charities, private foundations, faith-based organizations and otherphilanthropic groups, from 1 to 100. '1' means you have very negative feelingsfor non profit organizations and '100' means you have very positive feelingsfor them?"Base: All adultsAgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %1-50 (Net) 32 12 28 17 28 38 471-10 6 1 6 1 6 9 911-20 1 1 - * 2 2 121-30 4 - 6 2 2 4 631-40 3 * 3 2 2 3 441-50 18 11 14 13 17 19 2651-100(Net) 68 88 72 83 72 62 5351-60 4 2 2 7 3 5 461-70 6 10 5 5 7 6 671-80 26 22 34 32 32 25 1981-90 17 29 13 22 17 11 1591-100 14 25 17 16 13 15 9Means 68 80 70 76 69 64 60* Less than 0.5%.TABLE 2PERCEPTIONS OF HOW NONPROFIT SECTOR IN AMERICA IS DOING-BY AGE

“In general, do you think the nonprofit sector in America is on the right track or has pretty seriously gotten off in the wrong direction?”

 Base: All adultsAgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %Right track 30 36 38 35 33 29 21Wrongdirection 32 16 19 23 34 38 37Not sure 38 48 43 41 33 33 42Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.TABLE 3USE OF DONATED FUNDS-BY AGE"Based on what you know, please rate your agreement with the followingstatement: 'Most charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their useof donated funds.'"Base: All adultsAgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %Agree (Net) 58 60 58 70 61 55 50Strongly agree 10 6 11 15 11 10 6Somewhat agree 48 54 47 55 51 45 44Neither agreenor disagree 15 24 20 10 14 13 17Disagree (Net) 27 16 22 20 24 32 33Somewhatdisagree 22 16 18 19 18 25 29Stronglydisagree 5 * 4 1 6 7 5Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.* Less than 0.5%.TABLE 4FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

“In the past year, have you or any members of your household made a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization, including charities, schools, churches, hospitals, museums, etc.?”

 

 Base: All adultsTREND Yes NoJanuary 2006 % 92 8October 2005 % 80 20May 2005 % 80 20TABLE 5FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS-BY AGE

“In the past year, have you or any members of your household made a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization, including charities, schools, churches, hospitals, museums, etc.?”

 

 Base: All adultsAgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %Yes 92 75 75 92 93 95 95No 8 25 25 8 7 5 5TABLE 6CHARITABLE DONATION AMOUNTS-BY AGE

“Thinking about all your charitable contributions to religious organizations, churches, charities, or other nonprofit organizations, etc., approximately how much money in total did you (or any members of your household) donate to churches and other charitable or nonprofit organizations in the past year?”

 Base: Donated to nonprofit organization(s)AgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %Zero/Nothing - - - - - - -Less than $250 33 52 54 40 31 31 23$250-$499 16 4 11 16 21 19 15$500-$999 13 11 8 17 13 12 12$1,000-$1999 12 5 3 10 13 12 16$2,000-$2,999 6 1 3 5 4 6 9$3,000-$3,999 4 2 - 4 2 4 6$4,000-$4,999 2 6 - 2 1 2 1$5,000-$7,499 3 * 5 1 4 3 5$7,500 or more 3 3 - 2 5 3 3Decline toanswer 8 16 17 4 5 7 10Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.* Less than 0.5%.TABLE 7VOLUNTEERING FOR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS-BY AGE

“Taking all of your volunteer activities together, on average, how often do you volunteer?”

Base: Have participated in any volunteer activityAgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %At least monthly(Net) 64 52 59 61 64 64 72Daily 5 1 2 4 5 7 5At least weekly,but not daily 31 26 23 28 27 30 42At least monthly,but not weekly 28 24 35 28 32 27 25Less than monthly(Net) 36 48 41 39 36 36 28At least quarterly(every threemonths), but notmonthly 16 20 17 20 16 16 12At least semi-annually, butnot quarterly 10 8 11 10 13 10 10annually 10 21 12 9 7 9 7Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.TABLE 8FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS-BY AGE

“Thinking about your charitable contributions over the past year, to which type of organization(s) have you donated money? Please select all that apply.”

 Base: Donated to nonprofit organization(s)AgeTotal 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+% % % % % % %Churches or religiousorganizations 50 43 48 38 46 54 58Disaster relieforganizations 47 43 42 45 48 45 51Community groupsand programs 35 23 14 35 34 37 37Human serviceorganizations 34 37 28 30 36 36 34Organizations thatserve youth andchildren 30 20 14 31 35 32 27Educationalorganizations 24 15 10 30 27 23 23Other healthcareorganizations 14 4 20 15 15 13 17Conservation andenvironmentalorganizations 13 9 17 13 13 12 14Arts and cultureorganizations 13 8 14 18 13 9 15Organizations thatserve the agingand elderly 12 1 1 7 10 12 22Hospitals 7 7 2 6 6 6 11Other 2 - * 2 1 2 1Don't know * - 3 - - * *None/Nothing * 2 - - - * *Declined toanswer/No answer * - - - * * *Note: Only responses with 1% or more included.* Less than 0.5%.TABLE 9DONATION EXPECTATION FOR 2006"Compared to 2005, how much do you expect to donate to charity in 2006?"Base: All AdultsTotal%More than 2005 (Net) 17Much more than in 2005 1More than in 2005 15About the same as in 2005 67Less than 2005 (Net) 16Less than in 2005 10Much less than in 2005 6Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between January 11 and 17, 2006 among 2,720 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite “margin of error” for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,720 adults one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points. Sampling error for the sub-samples of those who have donated money to a charitable organization in the past year (n=2,523) and those who have volunteered their time to a charitable organization in the past year (n=1,672) is higher and varies. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 J26413Q335, Q340, Q345, Q355, Q360, Q365, Q370About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive Inc. (http://www.harrisinteractive.com), based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll� and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry. Long recognized by its clients for delivering insights that enable confident business decisions, the Company blends the science of innovative research with the art of strategic consulting to deliver knowledge that leads to measurable and enduring value.

 Press Contact:Jennifer CummingsHarris Interactive585-214-7720(1) Respondents were asked to rate their overall feelings about nonprofitorganizations from 1 to 100 with '1' meaning they have very negativefeelings for non profit organizations and '100' meaning they have verypositive feelings for them. Thirty-two percent of adults gave a scorebetween 1 and 50, which translates to a less than positive rating.The Harris Poll #33, April 27, 2006

By David Clayton, PhD, Vice President, Nonprofit and Social Issues Research Group, Harris Interactive

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