Americans Feel Less Charitable

November 4, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Financial Services | Non-Profit

Americans are changing their charitable behavior in the wake of the recession, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

Fewer See Personal Responsibility
Between May 2007 (before the December 2007 start of the current recession) and September 2010, the percentage of US adults saying people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place through active involvement with issues and causes dropped about 22%, from 31% to 24%.


However, the percentage of US adults saying people can get involved with issues and causes if they want to, but should not feel obligated, rose 15%, from 40% to 46%. There was also a slight increase in the percentage of adults saying people should generally get involved with issues and causes because it is the right thing to do (19% to 21%).

The percentage saying people should look out for their own interests tripled, but remained extremely low, growing from 1% to 3%.

1/3 Give Smaller Amounts
When asked how they have changed their charitable behavior (if at all), the largest percentage of respondents (31%) said they give smaller amounts. Another 19% give to fewer organizations.


Corporate Responsibility Impacts 3/4 of Consumers
Three-quarters of US adults (76% combined) say that a company’s reputation for being socially responsible at least sometimes affects their decisions about what to buy. Just less than one in five (18%) feel strongly about this, with an additional 35% saying it sometimes affects their decision-making. Another quarter (23%) say a company’s reputation for social responsibility affects their purchase decision-making once in a while and 17% say it has no effect at all.


Youth/Family Charities Most Popular
When asked what charities they care about and/or donate time/money to the most, the largest percentage of respondents (21%) said youth/family organizations. The catch-all “other” category actually came in second (15%), followed by medical research (14%) and education (10%).


About one in eight respondents (12%) have not made any donations, twice the percentage giving this answer in January 2009. There has also been a slight uptick in volunteering more time in response to the recession since January 2009 (9% to 11%).

Americans Seek Corporate Opportunities for Charity
The “2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study” indicates eight in 10 (81%) Americans want companies to give them the opportunity to buy a cause-related product, with 88% saying this purchase would not replace traditional donations they would otherwise make.

Another 80% want companies to give them the opportunity to learn about a social or environmental issue, and 78% want companies to provide the opportunity to change their behavior.

More than seven in 10 consumers also want companies to provide charitable opportunities such as donating to a sponsored non-profit and volunteering.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between September 14 to 20, 2010 among 2,620 adults (aged 18 and older). 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.


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