Adults in the U.S. and Canada are expressing more trust in charitable causes and organizations, according to a report published by the Better Business Bureau in late November.

One in five (20.4%) U.S. adults said they highly trust charities, which is a 1.9% rise from 2020 and a 3.6% increase from 2017, with trust increasing for 12 of the 13 charitable giving categories surveyed.

Only environmental organizations saw a slight decrease from 2020 to 2021, with 0.4% fewer respondents saying they highly trust charities working in this sector.

Veteran organizations saw the highest percentage increase during this time, rising six points to 27%, followed by religious organizations (rising four points to 29%) and police / firefighter organizations (increasing three points to 23%).

Trust in religious organizations was at 32% in 2017 before declining the following three years to a low of 25% in 2020. The increase to 29% in 2021 kept religious organizations as the most highly trusted charitable organization category, a pattern that has held for the past five years.

This placed religious organizations two points ahead of veteran organizations and four points ahead of animal welfare organizations in high trust levels among U.S. adults.

A growing number of respondents to BBB’s survey, conducted in late 2021, said that they are open to being solicited for donations (38%), while 17% said they would like more charities to ask them for support, and 21% said they would consider giving more if asked.

Of the U.S. adults who are open to charitable giving solicitations, 31% say religious organizations have approached them about giving more than they would like, and 29% say they do not want more religious organizations to solicit their financial support – the highest percentages for any charitable organization included in the survey.

Less than one quarter (21%) of U.S. respondents said they would consider giving more to religious organizations if asked, while 11% said they would like more religious charities to solicit giving from them.

Among Canadian adults, 14.4% of all respondents said they high trust charities, which is a 2.7-point increase from 2017.

Health organizations were the most highly trusted charities in Canada, with 22.8% say they highly trust these entities. While religious non-profits top the list for U.S. adults’ trust, in Canada, religious organizations ranked seventh in trust levels, with 15% of respondents saying they highly trust these entities.

Around one in five (27.3%) of Canadians were open to solicitation from charitable causes, with 8.6% saying they are open to more solicitation and 18.7% indicating they might give more if asked.

“With growing concern about how eroding trust might harm publicly soliciting charities, our survey found reasons for hope,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB’s Give.org, in a press release announcing the report. “The survey found higher trust for most charity categories, and the highest openness to solicitation we have observed in five years.”

The full report is available here.

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