Education a Top Priority for Donors, Survey FindsPosted: March 3, 2011
Although more than half of all charitable donations in 2009 went to religious organizations, a new survey from the NonProfit Times and Infogroup/Nonprofit found that donors, when asked which type of organization actually needs money, see education as a top priority.
According to the survey, 35 percent of respondents listed education as the type of organization most in need of support, followed by health (24 percent), civic or community (12 percent), religion (9 percent), overseas crisis/relief (8 percent), environmental (7 percent), and political (1 percent). Responses of “none” and “don’t know” totaled 4 percent. However, the most recent data available from the Giving USA Foundation found that more than one-third of total donations made by individuals between 1992 and 2009 went to religious groups, including $100.9 billion in 2009, compared to $40 billion for education organizations.
“I think a lot of this is people saying one thing and doing another,” said Larry May, senior vice president for strategy at Infogroup/Nonprofit. Media coverage also may have influenced survey respondents’ decisions to vote for education over religion. Poor performing schools, for example, tend to receive more coverage than congregations, which in turn may influence the way people give.
The way survey questions were posed may have influenced the results, said former Giving USA editor Melissa Brown, now an Indianapolis-based philanthropy consultant. “Asking about which organizations are in need of financial support is not the same as asking, ‘which one do you most want to support’ or even ‘which one do you think does the most important work in the world,'” said Brown. “This might be why less than 10 percent advance religious organizations in response to the question. They know they and most of their friends are giving to a religious group and probably that is the bulk of their charitable giving, so the funding stream at that organization, at least, is comparatively secure.”
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