There is a lot to be said for public image – especially in the nonprofit community. In order for a nonprofit to be seen as trustworthy, the public has to truly believe that they intend on doing good. After all, Nonprofits work with our nation’s diverse and often underprivileged communities to build a healthy, equitable society where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.


Community Opinions on Nonprofits

Independent Sector recently released its third annual study into the driving force behind public trust in philanthropic organizations. The good news is this: there is a large majority of people who still believe that nonprofits and philanthropy groups intend to do good. With that being said, the number of people that feel that way decreased between 2021 and 2022. There is always work that can be done to improve how trustworthy charities are according to the public eye.


Trust in Civil Society Report Findings

We wanted to share a few key findings from the study conducted by Independent Sector. This study was conducted nationally with the survey feedback of 3,015 American adults. The trust study provided data by income, gender, education level, age groups, race and ethnicity, and political affiliation.

  • Today, 56% of Americans say they trust nonprofits, down a statistically significant 3-points from 2020 (59%). Philanthropy trust edged down from 36% to 34% (same period).
  • Financial well-being and education are major drivers of trust.
  • Trust of nonprofits among women declined during the pandemic.
  • Gen Z is skeptical of the nonprofit sector.
  • Integrity and purpose remain critical to building and maintaining nonprofit trust.
  • Black Americans have higher than average trust in nonprofits and philanthropy.
  • Distrusters of nonprofits and philanthropy point to perceived fund mismanagement and cases of corruption and scandals. Neutral trusters say financial transparency and proof of impact are necessary. Public figure endorsements, communicating a clear organizational mission, and demonstrating results remain top trust drivers.


Tips for Increasing Trust

The report findings can be a little overwhelming for charities and nonprofits. Knowing that the scales are barely weighing in their favor can cause a sense of panic about how to push forward when the next generation seems to feel much less trusting. There are a number of things that charitable organizations can do to increase trust, but we decided to highlight tips that can be implemented immediately.

  • Community organizations should take advantage of social media. Social media is a driving force for the majority of the current generation and can help increase trust in your organization. Post picture proof of your nonprofit out in the community making an impact. Answer comments and questions about your organization when they arise in the comments/feedback on your posts.
  • Make your financial documents easily accessible on your website. Financial transparency continues to be important for charitable organizations and should be taken seriously.


How are you making your nonprofit trustworthy? Are you taking the needed steps to continue receiving the public funding that your organization depends on? We would love to hear any feedback you may have to help charities and nonprofits continue to operate and uphold their public image.