Money? Time? Blood? What are Americans Giving?

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – August 14, 2014 – Charitable donations rose in 2013, the first growth seen since the 2008 recession. But of course, measurements like this typically track monetary giving – just one of the ways Americans, and people the world over, can contribute to causes they believe in. Broadening the scope to all types of giving, a recent Harris Poll finds that nine out of ten Americans (91%) have made some sort of contribution within the past two to three years, with money only the second most common type of giving (66%), after used clothing (73%).

    Just over half of U.S. adults gave food (53%) within that timeframe, while four in ten gave time or labor (41%) and nearly two in ten gave blood (18%). Nearly half (45%) gave some other type of used item, 4% made some other sort of medical or genetic donation, and 7% gave something else entirely.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,306 U.S. adults surveyed online From July 16 to 21, 2014.

    Some differences exist in how various groups of Americans are giving:

    • Older Americans are more likely to have given used clothing (64% Millennials, 70% Gen Xers, 79% Baby Boomers and 90% Matures), money (58%, 65%, 70% and 82%), food (50%, 49%, 58% and 61%), and other used items (32%, 42%, 53% and 65%). Younger Americans, meanwhile, are more likely to have given blood (20%, 23%, 14% and 11%) or made other medical or genetic donations (6%, 4%, 1% and 3%).
    • Republicans (73%) are more likely than either Democrats (64%) or Independents (65%) to have given money within the past two to three years.
    • Women are more likely than men to have given used clothing (82% vs. 64%), food (60% vs. 47%) or other used items (50% vs. 40%).

    Personal responsibility

    One in four Americans (25%) feel that people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being actively involved with various issues and causes; this percentage is on par with 2010 findings (24%) but down from 2007 (31%). An additional 17% feel people should generally take part in things such as voluntary service, donating to charities, or getting involved in community activities because it is the right thing to do, representing a drop from 2010 (21%). Roughly half (48%), meanwhile, feel people can get involved with different issues and causes if they want to, but shouldn’t necessarily feel obligated to do so; this stat is up marginally from 2010 (46%) and more notably when compared to the 40% of Americans who selected this response in 2007.

    Placing priorities

    When asked which types of causes should be the biggest priority for charities to focus their resources on, youth/families (16%) and education (15%) are the top selections, followed by human rights (12%), medical research (11%), and disaster relief (10%). Environmental (7%), global health (7%), animals (4%), and other causes (4%) round out the selections, with 13% not at all sure.

    • Education selections have dropped since 2010, from 19% to 15%, while growth can be seen for selections of human rights (from 9% to 12%) and disaster relief (from 7% to 10%) related causes.
    • Baby Boomers (16%) and Matures (13%) are more than twice as likely as Millennials and Gen Xers (6% each) to select disaster relief as the biggest priority, while Millennials (10%) are more than twice as likely as Matures (4%) to prioritize global health.
    • Democrats (17%) are more likely than either Republicans (8%) or Independents (11%) to prioritize human rights, while both Democrats (10%) and Independents (9%) are three times as likely as Republicans (3%) to prioritize environmental causes.

    Some disparities emerge when focusing instead on what sorts of causes Americans care most about personally, or where they donate their time and/or money to the most. While youth/families is also the top cause in this context (18%), education (11%) falls to fourth place, after animals and medical research (12% each).

    Looking across these two questions at specific causes, the 12% of Americans who focus their own attentions predominately on animals-related causes represents a threefold increase over the 4% saying charities should prioritize this sort of cause. Meanwhile, Americans are less likely to personally prioritize education (11%), human rights (7%) or global health (3%) causes than they are to say charities should focus on these (15%, 12% and 7%, respectively). Looking specifically at where different groups of Americans personally focus on giving their time and/or money:

    • Matures are less likely than any other generation to prioritize youth/family causes (19% Millennials, 18% Gen Xers, 19% Baby Boomers and 10% Matures), while being more likely than other generations to focus their giving on medical research causes (9%, 12%, 12% and 22%). Millennials, for their part, are more likely than their elder counterparts to prioritize education (15%, 9%, 8% and 8%).
    • Democrats (11%) are again more likely than either Republicans or Independents (4% each) to focus on human rights, while both Democrats and Independents (7% each) are twice as likely as Republicans (3%) to focus their giving on environmental causes. Independents are also twice as likely as Republicans to prioritize education related causes (14% vs. 7%).

    Social responsibility showing some influence over consumer behavior

    Roughly half of U.S. adults (51%) say that a company’s reputation for being socially responsible at least sometimes affects their decision-making about what to buy, with 17% feeling strongly about this and 34% indicating it sometimes affects their decisions. An additional 25% say it affects their purchase decision-making once in a while and 17% say it has no effect at all.

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    TABLE 1a

    ATTITUDES TOWARD PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT – Trend

    As you may know, people’s attitudes differ very widely concerning how involved they want to be with community, civic, and social causes – including things like voluntary service, donating to charities, or getting involved in community activities. Which statement best describes your attitude about this subject?

    Base: All adults

     

    May 2007

    Sept 2010

    July 2014

    %

    %

    %

    People have personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being actively involved with various issues and causes.

    31

    24

    25

    People generally should take part in such things because it is the right thing to do.

    19

    21

    17

    People can get involved with different issues and causes if they want to, but no one should feel obligated to do so.

    40

    46

    48

    A person’s main concern is to look out for his or her own interests, not to be involved with social causes.

    1

    3

    4

    Not sure

    9

    6

    6

    Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

     

     

    TABLE 1b

    ATTITUDES TOWARD PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT – by Generation, Political Party & Gender

    As you may know, people’s attitudes differ very widely concerning how involved they want to be with community, civic, and social causes – including things like voluntary service, donating to charities, or getting involved in community activities. Which statement best describes your attitude about this subject?

    Base: All Adults

    Total

    Generation

    Political Party

    Gender

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen Xers (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    People have personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being involved with various issues and causes.

    25

    29

    22

    24

    24

    22

    28

    27

    25

    25

    People generally should take part in such things because it is the right thing to do.

    17

    19

    17

    17

    18

    19

    20

    15

    18

    17

    People can get involved with different issues and causes if they want to, but no one should feel obligated to do so.

    48

    40

    49

    53

    56

    51

    41

    53

    46

    50

    A person’s main concern is to look out for his or her own interests, not to be involved with social causes.

    4

    6

    5

    2

    1

    2

    6

    2

    6

    2

    Not sure.

    6

    8

    7

    4

    1

    6

    5

    3

    5

    6

    Note: Multiple responses allowed


    TABLE 2

    TYPES OF CONTRIBUTIONS OVER PAST 2-3 YEARS

    by Generation, Political Party & Gender

    Which of these types of giving, if any, have you participated in within the past two to three years? Please select all that apply?

    Base: All Adults

    Total

    Generation

    Political Party

    Gender

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    ANY (NET)

    91

    86

    92

    93

    98

    92

    92

    91

    88

    93

    Used Clothing

    73

    64

    70

    79

    90

    74

    73

    74

    64

    82

    Money

    66

    58

    65

    70

    82

    73

    64

    65

    66

    66

    Food

    53

    50

    49

    58

    61

    56

    53

    55

    47

    60

    Other used items

    45

    32

    42

    53

    65

    48

    45

    46

    40

    50

    Time/Labor

    41

    42

    39

    40

    42

    43

    40

    42

    39

    43

    Blood

    18

    20

    23

    14

    11

    17

    17

    20

    20

    16

    Other medical/genetic donations

    4

    6

    4

    1

    3

    3

    4

    3

    4

    3

    Something else

    7

    8

    8

    5

    3

    6

    6

    7

    6

    7

    None of these

    9

    14

    8

    7

    2

    8

    8

    9

    12

    7

    Note: Multiple responses allowed


    TABLE 3

    BIGGEST PRIORITY CHARITIES SHOULD FOCUS RESOURCES ON – by Generation, Political Party & Education

     Thinking about the state of the world today, which types of causes do you believe should be the

    biggest priority for charities to focus their resources?

    Base: All Adults

     

    2010 Total

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Political Party

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen Xers (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Youth/families

    18

    16

    15

    18

    16

    14

    20

    15

    15

    Education

    19

    15

    20

    14

    12

    16

    12

    16

    17

    Human Rights

    9

    12

    12

    11

    11

    12

    8

    17

    11

    Medical Research

    12

    11

    8

    12

    11

    17

    13

    11

    10

    Disaster Relief

    7

    10

    6

    6

    16

    13

    13

    8

    9

    Environmental

    9

    7

    8

    9

    6

    6

    3

    10

    9

    Global Health

    6

    7

    10

    6

    7

    4

    7

    7

    8

    Animals

    3

    4

    5

    4

    4

    2

    4

    4

    3

    Other

    5

    4

    2

    6

    4

    5

    5

    3

    4

    Not at all sure

    12

    13

    13

    13

    13

    11

    15

    9

    13

    Note: Multiple responses allowed


    TABLE 4

    CHARITY TYPE CARE MOST ABOUT PERSONALLY – by Generation & Political Party

     And, which types of charities do you care most about personally, and/or donate your time and/or money to the most?

    Base: All Adults

    2010 Total

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Political Party

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen Xers (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Youth/families

    21

    18

    19

    18

    19

    10

    22

    17

    17

    Animals

    8

    12

    14

    13

    10

    12

    12

    12

    11

    Medical research

    14

    12

    9

    12

    12

    22

    14

    13

    12

    Education

    10

    11

    15

    9

    8

    8

    7

    12

    14

    Disaster relief

    5

    7

    6

    5

    9

    9

    8

    6

    7

    Human rights

    6

    7

    8

    8

    5

    4

    4

    11

    4

    Environmental

    6

    6

    7

    4

    6

    4

    3

    7

    7

    Global health

    3

    3

    4

    2

    3

    1

    2

    3

    4

    Other

    15

    13

    6

    15

    17

    20

    18

    10

    11

    Not sure at all

    12

    12

    13

    11

    11

    10

    10

    9

    12

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

     


    TABLE 5a

    EFFECT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ON PURCHASE DECISIONS – Trend

    How much effect would you say a company’s reputation for social responsibility has on your own decisions about what to buy and who to do business with?

    Base: All adults

     

    May 2007

    Sept 2010

    July 2014

    %

    %

    %

    It has a strong effect on my decisions

    16

    18

    17

    It sometimes affects my decisions

    34

    35

    34

    It affects my decisions once in a while

    28

    23

    25

    No effect at all

    22

    17

    17

    Not sure

     

    7

    7

    Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding; indicates that this was not offered as a response choice in 2007

     

     

    TABLE 5b

    EFFECT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ON PURCHASE DECISIONS

    by Generation, Political Party & LGBT Status

    How much effect would you say a company’s reputation for social responsibility has on your own decisions about what to buy and who to do business with?

    Base: All Adults

    Total

    Generation

    Political Party

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen Xers (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    ANY EFFECT (NET)

    77

    80

    75

    76

    72

    76

    80

    77

    It has a strong effect on my decisions

    17

    18

    18

    17

    13

    11

    20

    19

    It sometimes affects my decisions

    34

    37

    31

    32

    38

    37

    37

    30

    It affects my decisions once in a while

    25

    24

    26

    27

    20

    27

    24

    27

    No effect at all

    17

    14

    17

    18

    23

    17

    14

    18

    Not sure

    7

    7

    8

    6

    5

    7

    5

    5

    Note: Multiple responses allowed


    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English,within the United States between July 16 and 21, 2014 among 2,306 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

     

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll¨ #79, August 14, 2014

    By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

    On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.