Nonprofit Newswire | Survey: Public Opinion on Nonprofits Markedly Positive

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May 19, 2010; Fenton Forecast | According to this survey of 1000 Americans, the confidence we have in nonprofits is high, with 80 percent saying they think nonprofit performance is “Good to Excellent.” This is certainly better than the public’s confidence in the U.S. government which the Pew Research Center says is the mirror image—“Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century.”

Again according to the survey, the confidence in nonprofits is higher among people over 50 at 84% and lower for people under 35 at 74%. Despite this confidence, however, two-thirds of the respondents anticipated either keeping their donation levels the same or decreasing their giving over the coming year—so keep those expectations for the new donor programs within reason!

Weirdly, despite the lesser confidence reported among people under 35, they were the one group where more than half expected to increase their giving. And apparently the women they surveyed were expected to be much more conservative than the men with only 28 percent expecting to increase their giving as opposed to 44 percent of the men.

There was a lot in the write-up of this survey that felt a bit off to me and that could be related to the fact that Fenton was clearly building a case for its own branding services in the report and focused respondents on very large charity organizations (at least in the section that asked them to rate the charities). But the other thing I found of interest was what people reported as being the “most credible” sources of information on issues that they care about—television and radio reports and newspapers and magazines.

So you might want to be careful about relying overly much on relaying your messages primarily through social networking sites, which were much further down on the list of credible sources. Twice as credible as social networking sites, in fact, was relying on the judgment of those helped by the organization. Why does that make me so happy? Still, consider the source as you judge the worth of this survey’s findings for yourself. It is at least halfway interesting and different.—Ruth McCambridge