SAINT LEO, FL – Just about half of the respondents in a statewide survey conducted after Thanksgiving by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( anticipate their 2016 giving to charitable causes will be level with their 2015 contributions.

Specifically, 47.4 percent of the 501 respondents across the state said their total levels of 2016 giving would be “about the same” as the prior year. Another group, 18.8 percent, said their 2016 charitable giving would increase compared to 2015, while 13.6 said it would decrease.

Of the remaining respondents, 14.6 percent said they have not and will not be giving to charity in 2016, and 5.6 percent were unsure. The results were collected online from November 27 to November 30, 2016, and the margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The 399 respondents who reported giving to charities were asked how they go about their decision making, and most of them strongly agreed (40.6 percent) or somewhat agreed (39.8 percent) that they research charities before donating. Specifically:

  • Donors strongly agreed (38.1 percent) or somewhat agreed (34.8 percent) that they check to see what percentages of charities’ budgets for actual programs or services before giving (total agreeing = 72.9 percent).
  • More than six in 10 had been negatively influenced by bad reviews; 32.8 percent strongly agreed and 33.1 percent somewhat agreed they had stopped giving to one or more charities over time because of poor reviews.
  • So-called “report cards” on charities were apparently not as broadly influential with donors. While 48.1 percent either strongly or somewhat agreed that they use report cards before donating, 47.4 percent disagreed strongly or disagreed somewhat. In practical terms, that is an even split between “yes” and “no” on report cards being relevant.

The Saint Leo University poll also asked the 399 donor-respondents what types of charities they support, permitting answers from multiple categories supplied. The responses in descending order were:

 Typically support Percentages
Church, mosque, synagogue or religious organizations 47.1
Health charities (i.e. disease, medical research) 43.4
Military and veteran support groups 42.1
Animal support groups (i.e. wildlife conservation, welfare, zoos) 32.1
International charities (i.e. children, disaster relief) 19.0
Environmental charities (i.e., conservation efforts, parks, nature centers) 18.8
Education charities (i.e. private universities/colleges, scholarships, teachers, financial aid) 18.0
Human rights organizations 15.5
Arts & culture (i.e. museums, galleries, libraries, media) 9.8
Pro-choice groups 8.8
Right to Life groups 6.5
Refugee or immigrant support groups 5.0
None of the above 5.0


Florida mirrored the national sample of the same survey in almost all ways.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The national poll of 1,001 adults was conducted from November 27 through November 30, 2016 and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A sample of 501 adults in Florida were also surveyed from November 27 through November 30, 2016. The findings from the Florida survey have a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.