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Survey: Charities Should Get More Legislative Support

The new United for Charity report, released by Independent Sector last week, makes the case that nonprofits deserve a spot at the legislative table—and that the public would prefer it that way.

Should state and federal governments lean more on charitable organizations to tackle society’s toughest challenges?

If they did, the public would generally support the move.

That’s according to a new study from Independent Sector, which found that 78 percent of 1,300 voters surveyed would favor such an expansion of charities’ role in public life.

“The work of these charitable organizations spans the country, impacting every community and bringing deep expertise to many of the most challenging problems facing our society today,” the report states [PDF]. “This breadth of engagement compels the charitable sector to take a more active role in partnering with government to find solutions to these problems.”

But the study, United for Charity: How Americans Trust and Value the Charitable Sector, noted that charitable nonprofits, “for reasons ranging from lack of resources to uncertainty about what constitutes permissible activities, do not regularly participate in policy conversations to the detriment of the communities they serve and society as a whole.”

The survey, released in the run-up to the presidential election, could help change the conversation—especially because support for charitable nonprofits is generally bipartisan, the report notes.

In fact, charities generally enjoy a high degree of public trust, according to the survey. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents said they trust charities with their money more than they trust the federal government and said they wanted “expanded access to charitable giving.” And 87 percent of respondents said lawmakers should interact more with nonprofit officials.

Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector, said the data supports one high-level conclusion: “Americans overwhelmingly trust and value the charitable community.”

“We feel strongly that this data underscores that individuals and organizations in the charitable sector need to speak up more to encourage policy changes that positively affect their communities,” Cardinali said in a press release. “Conversely, policymakers should be listening and collaborating with the charitable sector to solve our country’s most challenging problems.”

The study was conducted between January and March of this year, using a combination of focus groups and a national survey. The infographic below has more highlights:

Independent Sector infographic

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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