Why Do Americans Donate to Charity?

December 12, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Digital | Direct Mail | Email | Industries | Non-Profit | Social Media | Word of Mouth

Three-quarters (75%) of American adults say they donate money to charity yearly, with 28% saying they donate between $100-$499 every year. So, what drives Americans to give money to charity? Here’s what a recent survey of more than 1,200 US adults from YouGov reveals.

Two-fifths (39%) of Americans who donate to charity do so at the request of a family member or friend, making this the leading reason for making a charitable donation.

Beyond responding to such requests, one-third (32%) of adults who donate do so at places like grocery stores where they are given an option to donate to charity during an in-person checkout, double the proportion who do so when asked during an online checkout (16%).

Meanwhile, more than one-quarter (27%) say they donate when asked by a person in a public place. Other reasons for donating (among those who have done so) include receipt of a letter in the mail from a charity asking for a donation (23%), in memoriam fundraisers (22%), after seeing a news story about the topic or charity (21%), or as a result of a fundraiser they saw on social media (19%).

Only 13% of Americans say they donate after receiving an email request from a charity. Earlier this year, an M+R study found that 13% of all online revenues for non-profits come from email.

Separately, the YouGov survey found that half (51%) of US adults tend to donate to charities they feel they are in some way personally connected to, rather than to charities they think will use the funds in the most effective way regardless of whether they feel any personal connection to the charity’s mission (39%). This is much more true for women than for men, who are more split on that aspect of giving.

Finally, what causes are they donating to? Most often Americans who donate to charities donate to human services charities (39%), while other categories including religion (32%), health (26%), animals (26%), disaster relief (23%) and education (18%).

For more results, read more here.

About the Data: Results are based on an online survey of 1,242 US adults which included 1,036 who have ever donated to charity.

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