In 2011, Colorado Nonprofit Association conducted extensive research on Coloradans’ values and beliefs about nonprofits and giving, and on the causes, connections, and actions that lead to making a donation. The resulting study, Understanding Giving: Beliefs and Behaviors of Colorado’s Donors, includes a wealth of information about how donors make decisions to give to particular causes and organizations and how they act out those decisions.
Donors Who Research
38% of donors surveyed said they researched the organization before making their most recent donation. In this article, we look at what sets these researchers apart from others, as well as the types of research they do. (The top two sources of information they mentioned: the internet and the nonprofit itself!)
Our research found that, over the previous year, 57% of Coloradans had donated to a human services organization. Human services supporters know that nonprofits do important work. They value trustworthiness, clear communication, and a strong nonprofit-donor relationship. For them, giving is more than writing a check – it’s the beginning of a partnership.
51% of Coloradans, according to our survey, had donated to education-related causes over the previous 12 months. We found that most of these donors fit into one of three categories: alumni, who primarily donate to colleges and universities; parents and family members who give to school-related organizations; and those who support education in general, donating to anything from neighborhood school programs to international literacy initiatives. Despite this diversity, we do see some interesting patterns when we compare those who don’t donate to education-related causes with those who do.
We found 46% of Coloradans reported donating to health or medical causes over the previous year. Many support health-related nonprofits because of a friend or family member’s struggle with health-related issues. For these donors, giving is intensely personal – but their personal connections may tie them more to causes than to specific organizations.
Who Gives: Youth-Related Causes
Overall, 43% of Coloradans surveyed reported donating to youth-related causes in the past year. The survey data reveals several patterns that set youth-related donors apart from other Coloradans: they give more to charity and support more nonprofits; they place higher importance on both religious beliefs and tax benefits; they’re more likely to give in response to direct appeals, including less personal appeals such as requests via phone or mail.
40% of Coloradans surveyed reported donating to animal-related causes in the past year. Surprisingly, these donors are more skeptical about nonprofits in general than other Coloradans. They’re highly cause-driven, and they tend to give in a strategic, pre-planned way. They research an organization before donating and they value communication from a nonprofit both before and after they give.
Past Special Reports
Understanding Giving: Generosity and Political Affiliation in Colorado
Our research into generosity and beliefs reveals some key differences between Democrats and Republicans, as well as some surprising similarities.
Understanding Giving: Men, Women, and Charity
In this article, we look more deeply at what our research taught us about differences between men and women in perceptions of nonprofits and attitudes about giving.
Understanding Giving: Income Differences
Through our analysis, we found that donors at different income levels tend to share similar attitudes towards giving and similar approaches to making a gift.
In this article, we look at what our research taught us about the generational differences in Coloradans’ giving beliefs and behaviors. In our 2011 phone survey, we tracked three separate age groups: donors age 18-44, age 45-64, and age 65 and up. The observations in this article are based entirely on the research results for these three age groups.
In-depth special reports were made possible by a grant from the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado.