Researchers from a group of marketing agencies gave 10,000 people a list of 180 potential partners and asked them which were most likely to affect their purchase.
Eight of the top 10 responses were not-for-profits, with recycling issues ranked number one. Environmental issues, poverty relief and animal protection also featured in the top 10, along with voluntary organisations Red, Greenpeace, the NSPCC and the Red Cross.
"Consumers have increasing expectations of business and brands and are increasingly interested in values-based propositions," said Sue Adkins, international director at Business in the Community. "It's a perfect scenario for the third sector."