EXPORT, PA – A new study from Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research asked evangelical Protestant donors to name their very favorite charity or ministry to support. Their answers reveal a lot about the giving priorities of evangelicals.
The findings are detailed in The Favorite Charity: Evangelical Giving Priorities, a study of over 1,000 American evangelical Protestants that was released today. As 58% of evangelicals give money to organizations outside of a local church, the research included 578 active donors and 439 non-donors.
The most startling finding was that despite what they claim, only a minority of evangelicals actually favor a faith-based organization in their giving.
Eighty-four percent of evangelicals say they prefer supporting Christian organizations. This includes 52% who prefer to support “organizations that have their Christian faith as a major part of the work they do,” while another 32% prefer to support “organizations that have a Christian background or perspective but are not necessarily conducting specifically Christian work.”
Despite what they say, only 46% of evangelical donors name a faith-based organization as their favorite to support. The remaining 54% have a favorite that is entirely secular.
Although there are over a million different charitable organizations in the US donors could support, just 19 different brands collectively represent the favorite organization for 53% of evangelical donors. In fact, the five most popular brands—St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, and UNICEF—are named the favorites of 34% of all evangelical donors.
Evangelicals also tend to favor very large organizations. The average total Form 990 annual revenues of the organizations favored by evangelicals is $1.07 billion. Just 12% of evangelical donors name a favorite organization with revenues under $10 million.
Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, feels many ministry leaders and strategists need to readjust their thinking. “We have posed some of these same questions to American donors in general, and we get very similar answers. In fact, of the 19 favorite organizations of evangelicals, 12 of them are also among the favorite organizations of American donors overall,” Sellers explains. “We have worked directly with dozens of donor-supported organizations, and all too often there is an assumption that religious people largely support religious organizations. In reality, evangelical donors are very similar to other donors. Many ministry leaders need to broaden their strategic thinking and understand how entirely secular organizations have made such broad inroads into the evangelical population. The competition for the donor dollar is much broader and stronger than some leaders recognize.”
Mark Dreistadt, founder and president of Infinity Concepts, notes that what is concerning about the research results is not that evangelicals support secular causes and organizations. “Certainly, evangelicals can and should be concerned about things such as adult literacy, homelessness, or pollution,” Dreistadt says. “But it is noteworthy that so many are making secular organizations their very top priority, especially when there are solid Christian organizations doing work similar to some of these secular favorites.”
The report also explores which charitable causes evangelical donors prioritize, the overhead ratios of favorite organizations, and why some evangelicals actively avoid supporting Christian organizations.
For interviews contact:
- Ron Sellers, Grey Matter Research: firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-684-6294, or
- Darrell Law, Infinity Concepts: email@example.com, 724-930-2801
Definition of “Evangelical Protestant”
This study uses the definition of “evangelical” favored by the National Association of Evangelicals, based on four key spiritual beliefs.
Infinity Concepts has served clients worldwide for 20 years as America’s premier Christian brand communications and fundraising agency.
Grey Matter Research is a marketing research and consumer insights company with extensive experience serving the charitable and faith-based sectors.