Holiday Giving Survey Results

Most Americans say that their giving to political causes in 2012 and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will not reduce their year-end gifts to charity, according to a new poll by the American Red Cross.

A telephone survey of 1,010 adults conducted earlier this month found that 78 percent of those who have already given to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts say it will not impact their year-end charitable giving, while 90 percent of those who gave to political causes say it will not reduce their giving to non-profits this holiday season.

“We are very grateful for the strong support by the American public of the Red Cross relief response to Hurricane Sandy,” said Scott R. Salemme, regional chief executive officer, American Red Cross, Columbia Region. “The Red Cross, like other nonprofits, relies on funding throughout the year to support its mission to help those who need our help.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • The most popular ways people give are by putting money aside in a canister or giving to someone who is asking for a donation in a public place (both 56 percent) and mailing a check (52 percent). One in five (21 percent) say they have used a charity’s website to donate over the past 12 months.
  • Friends are influential in American’s charitable gift decisions, as half of all donors (51 percent) say they would donate if a friend talked to them personally about a charity.
  • Of social media users polled, 68 percent say they would take time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend posting about it; about half (51 percent) say they would have more respect for a friend that posts about a charitable donation and nearly four in ten (39 percent) said they would donate themselves.

While a majority of those polled said prior giving to political causes and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will not impact their year-end financial donations, fewer Americans plan to give to charity this year than last year. The survey found that 52 percent of Americans are planning to donate to charity this season, down from 57 percent the past two years in similar Red Cross surveys.

Giving by those who do plan to donate to a nonprofit may be less: while 49 percent of those planning to give will give more than $50; nearly half (46 percent) say they will give less than $50. Last year, 39 percent of Americans who planned to give said they would give less than $50.

“Even if people can’t make a financial donation this holiday season, there are others ways to make a difference, such as by giving blood, volunteering or sending a holiday card to a service member,” said Salemme.

Friends Remain a Trusted Source of Information

When people are considering making a charitable donation, hearing personally from friends and family is an important factor in their decision. Nearly six in ten (59 percent) of those polled said they would sponsor a friend in a walk, run or bike ride for charity if asked, while half said they would donate if asked directly.

More than a third (36 percent) said they would attend a fundraising event, while 32 percent) would sponsor a friend taking an action to emphasize a charity’s mission, like living below the poverty line for a week.

Social Media’s Influence on Giving

Most donors continue to give through ways other than social media, but nearly a quarter of Americans (24 percent) say they influenced by an email or something they saw on social media. Of those social media users polled, nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) said they would visit a charity’s website or Facebook page if they saw a friend post about it, while 58 percent said they would ask their friend to tell them more about the donation.

Half said they would have more respect for someone who posted about donating online, while nearly four in 10 (39 percent) said they would donate money themselves.

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,010 U.S. Adults 18 years and older on November 8-11, 2012 conducted in ORC International’s CARAVAN® survey  using a landline-cell dual-frame sampling design. Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

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