Grey Matters Research Consulting recently asked 1,000 American donors this question: if you could only support one charity, which one would it be?

54% of the respondents picked one of twenty organizations (the survey did not suggest any organizations, the question was open ended).  36% of respondents picked one of the five charities listed below:

St. Judes

The American Cancer Society

The American Red Cross

The Salvation Army


A few interesting notes about these results:

  • The five most popular charities chosen are not America’s largest charities, but they do have outstanding brand recognition.
  • The number one cause among all donors is specific diseases (24%), followed by international relief and development (14%), animal welfare (13%), and community development (10%).
  • 60% name a favorite that operates globally, compared to 22% working just within the United States and only 16% working locally or regionally.
  • Religious people rarely favor religious organizations.  The proportion who name a favorite organization that is faith-based is only 18% among donors who self identify as Christians.

Two key take aways:

  • Faith-based organizations need to start asking themselves why so many people of faith are not putting their contributions where their hearts are.  There is opportunity here.
  • All charities need to take a look at the few brands that are tremendously strong and dig into what they have done to reach that brand strength and create preference among so many donors.  While smaller nonprofits don’t enjoy huge marketing budgets, there are inexpensive ways to increase brand awareness in your community.