BBB’s Study: Religious organizations are no longer the most trusted charities among American adults

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calendar icon Nov 27, 2023

Arlington, VA (November 27, 2023) – According to new research from BBB’s, for the first time since the group started tracking trust for different charity categories (in December 2017), religious organizations (defined as “houses of worship and other religious charities”) are not on top. Close to 1 in 4 (26.1%) American adults reported highly trusting religious organizations in December 2022, as compared to 32.0% in 2017. At the same time, a handful of charity categories reaches a peak in perceived high trust in December 2022, making veterans organizations (27.9%), and not-for-profit hospitals (27.1%), the most trusted charity categories.

The standards-based, charity-evaluation group today released the Donor Trust Report 2023: Donor Preferences Across Household Income Brackets. The report, a survey of more than 2,100 adults in the United States (with a separate section for more than 1,000 adults in Canada) identifies significant shifts in trust for specific charity types. This report also looks at how participants from different household income groups vary in their donor trust outlook.

“Household income and the class divide can shape the way individuals think and feel about giving” said H. Art Taylor, President and CEO of BBB’s, “our latest report shows that household income affects how people report assessing charity trust, and other giving preferences.”

Report highlights include:

  • In December 2022, the most trusted charity categories were veterans organizations (27.9%), not-for-profit hospitals (27.1%), religious organizations (26.1%), animal welfare (25.9%), and social service charities (24.9%). (See page 10 of DTR – Donor Trust Report.)
  • Religious organizations are still the most highly trusted charity category among Matures and Boomers. 34.8% of Matures report highly trusting religious organization, as compared to 18.4% of Gen Zers. (See p.11)
  • 37% of participants with household income between $70k and $200k are open to solicitation, with 12.6% expressing a desire to be approached more often by charities and 24.4% saying they might be willing to give more if approached. By comparison, 29.4% of participants with household income above $200k report being open to solicitation, with 15.4% expressing a desire to be approached and 14.1% saying they might be willing to give more if approached. (See p. 19)
  • When asked what most signals that a charity is trustworthy “accomplishments shared by the organization” was the most important signal across household income levels. Financial ratios were most important among high income households, with 50.0% of participants with household income of $200k or more picking financial ratios as a top trust signal, as compared to 32.9% among people with household income between $70k and $200k, and 20.2% among respondents with household income below $70k. (See p. 20)
  • Wealthier participants are more likely to “highly trust” 10 out of 13 charity categories. The three charity categories with higher trust among lower income households were veterans organizations, youth development, and police and firefighter organizations. (See p. 22)

For a free copy of the report, go to

BBB’s urges donors to give thoughtfully by taking the time to investigate charities before making a donation and to visit to verify if a charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Generational age ranges used in the Donor Trust Report: Generation Z (18-24), Millennial (25-40) Generation X (41-56) Boomers (57-75), Matures (76-93).

ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB’s is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues. National charity reports are produced by BBB’s and local charity reports are produced by local Better Business Bureaus – all reports are available at

ABOUT BBB: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2022, people turned to BBB more than 250 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on about 12,000 charities, all available for free at The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

MEDIA CONTACTS: For more information, journalists should contact Elvia Castro (703-247-9322 or

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