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Header image of Hong Kong financial center courtesy of hleung on flickr.

Perception of nonprofit efficiency

A study released recently from Ellison Research (Phoenix, Arizona) show that most Americans believe non-profit organizations are not financially efficient enough in their work. Sixty-two percent believe the typical non-profit spends more than what is reasonable on overhead expenses such as fundraising and administration. Regarding a particular nonprofit that one knows or relates to, however, the perception tends to be better.

This interesting pattern echoes what I have heard about local government perceptions -- when asked about local governments in general, many people consider them over-sized, inefficient, and poorly managed. Yet the same people tends to have somewhat better perceptions if the questions are about a particular local government that they deal with.

Are we just more distrustful of things that we less know? Or should we blame or appraise the media that are fond of bad news?

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs