Study Looks At Giving And Volunteering In U.S.
The United States is a nation of givers. Americans donate time and money to a multitude of causes and charities, from their local arts institutions and religious congregations to international causes such as hunger relief and human rights.
The study, which examines the philanthropic behavior of Americans was released by Independent Sector, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of more than 700 national nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation.
Giving and Volunteering provides a detailed look into the attitudes and motivating factors of households that give and individuals who volunteer and explores the links between giving and volunteering.
The study gives precise breakdowns on giving and volunteering patterns by the demographics of age, gender, race, household income, education, marital status and organizational type, and examines motivating factors such as childhood experiences and the influence of faith in decisions to give and volunteer.
The study also presents quantitative data on the reasons why some households do not donate time or money to charitable organizations. Data for the study was collected in the spring and summer of 2001.
Giving and Volunteering reports:
— 69 percent of contributing households give to religion, 43 percent of households give to health organizations, 39 percent to human services and 38 percent to youth services;
— 58 percent of all respondents give because they feel they owe something to the community;
— Religious organizations receive over a quarter of all volunteering hours;
— Volunteers give the most time on average to environmental and youth service organizations at 26 hours per month followed by education organizations at 18 hours. Environmental organizations attract fewer volunteers (4.8 percent), but they give more hours than almost all other subsector volunteers.
“With this latest version of Giving and Volunteering in the United States, Independent Sector continues to provide an incredible resource to enhance the nonprofit community’s understanding of the American tradition of generosity,” said Sara E. Melindez, president and CEO, of Independent Sector.
The survey notes the effect that household income plays in contributions. As previous Giving and Volunteering surveys have proved, household contributions increase as income increases, but lower income groups give a higher percentage of their income to charities.
The tendency of people to volunteer also increases with household income growth. For example, one in four people from households with incomes of less than $25,000 volunteered in the past year, while more than one in two from households with incomes of $75,000 or more volunteered.
Households that contribute to charity also display a sense of empowerment that is not represented as strongly in non-contributing households. Eighty-six percent of contributing households believe they have the power to do things to improve the welfare of others, while 73 percent of non-contributing households hold this belief.
Yet 82 percent of households that do not give have a strong belief in the government’s responsibility to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves, compared to 73 percent of giving households.
The Giving and Volunteering in the United States 2001 survey is the seventh in a series of biennial national surveys by Independent sector.
Faith and Philanthropy: The Connection Between Charitable Behavior and Giving to Religion was the first report released this year under the Giving and Volunteering Signature Series.
Future reports will cover the topics of youth involvement, senior volunteering, tax status and giving, and regional patterns in giving and volunteering.
The Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey of 4,216 adults over age 21 was conducted by Westat, Inc. The error rate of the sample is plus or minus 2 percent.