Everyone Agrees: The Other Guy Should Give More

Just how much money does someone need to earn each year to be considered one of “those people who have a lot money” to support nonprofits? It doesn’t really matter, apparently, as non-donors of any income level consider other people the ones with enough income to give to charity, at least according to a recent survey.

Grey Matter Research in Phoenix, Ariz., surveyed a “demographically representative” sample of 458 American adults who have not made any financial contribution to a nonprofit in the past 12 months. Local houses of worship were excluded from the definition of “nonprofits” in the study.

Among non-donors, just 19 percent disagreed with the statement people who have “a lot of money” need to step up and support nonprofits rather than “people like me providing the support,” while 45 percent agreed strongly.

Yet a majority disagreed that their tax dollars go for government services for people who have needs, so they don’t need to give to nonprofits. About a quarter disagreed strongly, in addition to another 37 percent who disagreed somewhat, compared to just 38 percent who agreed, either somewhat (26 percent) or strongly (12 percent).

“People can pretty accurately tell us their opinions, but most people don’t even fully understand exactly what motivates them to do the things they do,” said Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research. “Behavior is often such a mix of different factors that it can be difficult for consumers to explain or even comprehend exactly why they behave a certain way,” he said.

The meaning of “enough money” varies among non-donors regardless of income level. Households earning $100,000 or more annually were just as likely as those earning less than $20,000 to wish they had enough money to donate some to charity.

Approximately 61 percent of the lowest-income non-donors agree strongly with the statement while only 16 percent of those earning $10,000 or more agree. People younger than 35 are likely to feel the same way, with 83 percent agreeing, and of those 57 percent agreeing strongly. By contrast, only a third of those aged 35 to 54 and 47 percent of those older than 55 agreed strongly.

Some 83 percent said they “wish” they had enough money to be able to give some to nonprofits, in addition to 81 percent who were confident they could find one that would use the money wisely.

However, non-donors were split on whether a nonprofit would spend “too much of my money” on overhead and expenses to make their gift worthwhile. About one-fifth of those surveyed agreed strongly, almost two in five agreed somewhat, and another third disagreed somewhat.

More than half of non-donors agreed that nonprofits “don’t actually solve needs or problems,” only providing short-term solutions, with a third disagreeing somewhat and only 13 percent disagreeing strongly.

Whether their gift would be enough to make a difference remains a question, 62 percent disagreeing that it wouldn’t be enough, and of those 24 percent disagreeing strongly. Almost a third agreed that it wouldn’t be enough while one in 10 agreed strongly.

About two in five people surveyed agreed somewhat that “so many nonprofits are asking for money that it’s a turnoff,” but an equal amount – about 20 percent — agreed strongly and disagreed somewhat. Another 18 percent disagreed strongly.