Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

6 in 10 Americans Engaged in Philanthropy in Past Year: Study

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Sixty-two percent of Americans reported engaging in some kind of charitable activity within the past 12 months, and 43% said they had done so in the preceding four weeks, according to new research by Charities Aid Foundation.

People 55 and older were likelier than other age groups to have done some charitable activity within the past year, as were those with household incomes of $80,000 or more.

The report was based on data collected through 1,118 online interviews conducted by YouGov in July.

According to the survey, 47% of Americans gave money to a nonprofit group in the past 12 months, 37% to a church or other religious organization and 33% to a person or family in need. The typical donation was $100.

A recent study examined why donors who want to give more often do not.

Another 33% of respondents in the CAF study donated food to a nonprofit or religious group, 24% volunteered for a religious organization, 23% volunteered for a nonprofit and 23% sponsored someone for charity.

Among those who volunteered, 33% said they did so for religious organizations, 22% to help the poor and 16% to support homeless people. Only 2% said they supported overseas aid and mental health care through volunteering.

Supporting religious organizations/churches was the most popular cause among U.S. donors, with 37% having given to this category. Thirty-two percent helped the poor through donations, and 27% supported children, including orphans, those who are seriously ill and those with disabilities.

Way down the list at 3% each were these causes: preservation of cultural heritage, community development and urban environment, improving access to education, anti-corruption initiatives and supporting scientific research.

Older Americans in the survey leaned toward supporting medical institutions, including hospitals and hospice care, while millennials were likelier to support disabled people.

Respondents with a family income of $80,000 or more were twice as likely as those with an income of less than $40,000 to say they had supported schools, colleges and universities or improving access to education for vulnerable children and young people.

Donating online was the favored method of giving, chosen by 29% of those surveyed. Twenty-seven percent preferred to write a check, and 23% to use a donation box in a shop/supermarket or other public place.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they gave because they cared about the cause they supported. Sixty-four percent of women in the survey cited this as their reason for giving, compared with 53% of men.

Forty-one percent said they wanted to help other people, 39% said they trusted the organization they gave to and 38% said it made them feel good.

Recent research shows that people who give to charitable causes are happier than those who do not.

— Check out Top 20 Nonprofits That Ruled Fundraising in 2016 on ThinkAdvisor.