Americans’ charitable giving at new low: Gallup

Photo of a box full of food

A record low percentage of Americans is donating to charitable causes, a new Gallup poll finds.

The poll, conducted between April 14 and 28 — when millions of people had lost their jobs because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic — asked respondents if they had given money to a religious or other type of charity within the last year. Seventy-three percent said they had donated to some type of charity in the past 12 months. The results broke the previous record low, 79 percent during the Great Recession in 2009.

Slightly more people — 58 percent — said they are volunteering now than in 2009, when 55 percent said they were.  

Gallup notes that while the questions were asked about donations and volunteering during the past year, respondents could have answered “only about their current or very recent activity.”

Donations from lower- and middle-class households saw the biggest dip from 2017, when the poll was last conducted. The percentage of households making less than $40,000 who donated fell from 73 percent in 2017 to 56 percent. Among households that made between $40,000 and $99,000, 78 percent reported making charitable donations, down from 90 percent. Households making over $100,000 saw a 5-point drop in how many are making donations, from 92 percent to 87 percent.

One-quarter of all respondents said they planned to increase the amount they were giving to charity in the coming year, while just 7 percent said they planned to decrease it. These numbers, however, are skewed on income level. Only 3 percent of households making over $100,000 said they planned to decrease their donations, with 40 percent saying they would increase their donations. For households making less than $40,000, the numbers are closer together, as 17 percent said their donations would increase, while 13 percent said they would decrease.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just under 3 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of people who have applied during the pandemic to 36.5 million.

Tags charitable donations Coronavirus Gallup poll
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