Wise Giving Wednesday: Public Perceptions of Charity Impact

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calendar icon Jul 10, 2024

Public Perceptions of Charity Impact

While it is a common assumption that donors want to support highly impactful organizations, our recently released Give.org Special Donor Trust Report on Charity Accountability, shows that the donating public does not have a clear understanding of what the term means. Interestingly, wealthier participants are most likely to say they know the meaning of impact and to disagree about the correct definition. For example, among participants with household income above $200K who report knowing the meaning of impact, 23% chose “how efficient the organization was in its spending,” 23% selected “achievement numbers,” and only 20% selected “the overall change or outcome brought by the charity’s programs in accordance with its stated mission.”

Respondents indicated that both immediate and long-term results are important, but more respondents said long-term results are highly important (46.0%) than said the same for immediate results (23.9%). Similarly, most individuals say they value high-quality programs more than high volume programs. Long-term results and high-quality programs are especially important among lower-income survey takers. For example, almost half (48.1%) of participants with household incomes below $70K assign high importance to long-term results, as compared to only 1 in 4 (24.9%) assigning high importance to immediate results.

Our results suggest there is leeway in how impact is communicated. Ultimately, charities should be clear in how they define their own impact and take comfort in knowing that people care about long-term results and quality programs.  Additional insights on how the public perceives charity impact can be found in the 2021 Donor Trust Report. The previous report also indicated that the public does not have a clear understanding of the term “charity impact.”

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features Natalie Samarjian, President & CEO, Coro Southern California. Coro’s mission is “to strengthen the democratic process by preparing emerging leaders for effective and ethical leadership.” Some of their activities include board and executive leadership training and a youth fellows program for high school students.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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