New Polling Shows Americans’ Views on Philanthropy

Holiday season has become a critical time for charitable giving. Millions of Americans are planning end-of-year charitable contributions, non-profits are ramping up fundraising requests, and foundations are strategically planning their grantmaking for the coming year.  

In order to assess voters’ attitudes about philanthropy and charitable giving, Global Strategy Group (GSG) surveyed 1,000 registered voters nationwide to examine the issues of trust, regulation, and donor anonymity: 

Voters trust a wide range of non-profit and charitable organizations, though they are most trusting of small local charities. While voters largely trust non-profits across the board, their perspectives vary across different types of non-profits. Small local charities in their area (net +70 trust) are among the most trustworthy organizations while larger national charities (net +42 trust) lag behind. Notably, among all types of non-profits tested, only corporate foundations were at a net more untrustworthy to voters (41% trust, 59% do not trust, net -18).

  • Notable partisan divides. Democrats have a higher level of trust in non-profit advocacy organizations (84% trust) than Republicans (65% trust) or Independents (62% trust). Additionally, Republicans have a higher level of trust in faith-based charities (78%) than Democrats (27%) or Independents (59%).

An overwhelming majority of voters believe non-profits are ethical and reject calls for more regulation. When forced to choose between two statements, a 68% majority agree more with the statement that “non-profit organizations are ethical and do good work to help important causes,” while a 32% minority of voters say, “non-profits abuse the system and need more regulation.”

This comes at a time when there are legislative efforts including the bipartisan Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act, which would regulate the usage of Donor-Advised Funds, the Republican-led American Confidence in Elections Act, which would weaken the limited transparency requirements for non-profits, are being considered in Congress.

While majorities across gender, age, race, and income all agree more that non-profits are ethical, independents (40%), lower-income households (37%), and voters under the age of 45 (35%) are more likely to agree with the statement calling for more regulation.

Majorities see the value of donor anonymity in non-profits. Voters are generally supportive of donor anonymity. In fact, when forced to choose between two statements, nearly three in five voters (59%) agree with a statement in support of anonymous donations to non-profits vs. a statement against it. This is true across gender, age, political ideology and household income. 

Final Thoughts 

Voters continue to believe that non-profits are ethical and do good work to help important causes – with a limited few calling for more regulation. Further, voters support allowing donors to stay anonymous if it means these important causes get the funding they need to help important social issues.  

About this research 

Global Strategy Group conducted an online survey among 1,000 registered voters nationwide between August 24 – 27, 2023. The survey included an oversample to reach 100 AAPI registered voters. The margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 3.1%. The margin of error on subgroups is greater.