Confidence in Charitable Organizations

December 15, 2003

Bob Edwards, host:
Americans’ confidence in charitable organizations still has not been restored. A new study from The Brookings Institution concludes that, especially since September 11th, Americans generally believe charities waste a lot of their money before getting it to the intended recipients. Paul Light is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and the author of the study.

Paul Light: The survey shows that confidence in charitable organizations has pretty much bottomed out. That’s kind of a good news/bad news story. It didn’t go up after September 11th, like confidence in so many civic institutions. It seems to have bottomed out now at about 10 to 15 points lower than it was before September 11th.

Bob Edwards: This a hangover from the scandals that occurred in several high-profile charities?

Paul Light: Absolutely. It’s a consequence of scandals across the board, controversy surrounding the Red Cross disbursement of the September 11th relief funds, the Catholic priesthood scandal. I mean, practically every scandal out there stuck to the charitable sector, and Americans have become more dubious about making investments, if you will, in charitable organizations, investments in either time or income.

Bob Edwards: And when you say it’s bottomed out, do you mean it’s as low as it can go, so it has nowhere to go but up?

Paul Light: It really has pretty much stayed the same since about a year and a half ago. …

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