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2024 Trust in Nonprofits and Philanthropy: Strengths and Challenges in a Time of Division

Independent Sector, in partnership with Edelman Data & Intelligence, has released its fifth Trust in Nonprofits and Philanthropy report that explores the nuances of trust in American nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.  

Trust in Nonprofits and Philanthropy 2024 Report.

Nonprofits hold a powerful position within communities in Michigan and nationwide, making it vital that these organizations earn public trust.  

Independent Sector released its fifth annual Trust in Nonprofits and Philanthropy report in collaboration with Edelman Data & Intelligence, which examines strengths and challenges in a time of division, offers new insights into how the public views the nonprofit sector, and uncovers key factors and strategies for strengthening public trust.  

Key Takeaways:  

Trust in philanthropy is lower than trust in nonprofits.  

  • Trust in philanthropy continues to hold at a reported 33%. Trust in nonprofits rose to 57%.  
  • More people have an unfavorable opinion of corporate philanthropy, with 27% of respondents indicating low trust in that sector.  
  • Public trust in philanthropy has held steady for the previous five years. 2020, the first year the Independent Sector collected trust data, remains the highest year for trust in philanthropy, at 36%.  

After four years of decline, trust in nonprofits has rebounded.  

  • Public trust in nonprofits has risen to 57%, a five point increase in year-over-year trust rates.  
  • Trust in the nonprofit sector remains markedly higher than in state and federal governments, private corporations and high net worth individuals.  
  • Nonprofits are most highly trusted in handling quality of life issues such as homelessness and poverty, healthcare, jobs and housing.  

Americans trust nonprofits to reduce national divisions more than they trust corporations, government, or media.  

  • The survey found that 94% of Americans are concerned about national cultural divisions and a lack of unity.  
  • Nonprofits are a driving force in reducing disunity, with 45% of respondents indicating they believed nonprofits were making things better for American citizens.  

Americans have less trust in nonprofits to advocate for public policies and conduct nonpartisan voter engagement.  

  • Bipartisan bias concerns the public, 30% of those surveyed trust nonprofits to provide factual, unbiased information about policies and political candidates. 
  • The survey found that Black respondents are more likely to trust nonprofits to assist in the writing or revision of laws and regulations compared to White respondents.
  • Gen Z respondents reported being significantly less likely to trust nonprofits to provide factual, unbiased information about candidates and issues compared to other generations.  

The survey results highlight clear pathways for nonprofits to increase public trust in the sector including transparency around ethics, guidelines and finances. Another suggested route towards increased public trust is to amplify nonprofit visibility within the communities served – firsthand experiences like volunteering were reported to help position nonprofits favorably in the eyes of respondents.  

Want more?

Read the full report here.