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Do Christians Prefer to Donate to Christian Organizations?

Certainly Christians like to give to Christian-based causes, right? After all, wouldn’t they want their donor dollars to go to organizations that express their same values? Actually, new research indicates they don’t. Grey Matter Research asked 1,000 American donors to name their very favorite donor-supported organization (outside of a local place of worship). They learned a lot – including the fact that the vast majority of Christians do not name a faith-based organization as their favorite. Just 19% of Protestants and 16% of Catholics, including 18% of all donors who regularly attend worship services, favor a faith-based ministry in their giving. But that’s not all. Here’s a few other things they discovered: · Nearly half of all donors have a favorite organization with an overhead ratio of 20% or higher. · Donors usually favor very large organizations and those which work globally. · Just five organizations account for the favorites of 36% of all donors; just 20 account for 54% of them. · Donors often describe a certain type of organization they would prefer to support – then have a favorite that is very different from their ideal. The Donor Mindset Study VIII from Grey Matter Research and Op4G explores what Americans’ favorite charities and ministries have in common, and what this tells us about donors. Grey Matter is making the full report available, and you can see a brief overview of the study here.

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  1. Surprising and interesting findings. I wonder if donors are more comfortable giving to large/global charities verses a smaller one because they correlate lager with trust. If that were true, could we suppose trust is a bigger factor in giving than shared values? Makes me curious.

    1. Maryjo, Grey Matter Research has explored how organization size impacts donor perceptions. Donors are actually about split on their stated preference of supporting large vs. small organizations, although in actual giving they strongly lean toward large organizations. This likely is a result of the much greater reach large organizations have through DRTV, mass mailings, advertising, marketing, and strong brands. In terms of how donors perceive size, larger organizations are seen as being more effective and having greater impact dollar-for-dollar, while smaller organizations are seen as needing the donations more and being more financially efficient. Neither has a perceptual advantage in trustworthiness. Check out the Public Studies tab on for details on both of these studies and more.

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