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Monday, January 22, 2018

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Substantial Numbers Still Willing to Donate Time and Money
Harris Interactive Poll

February, 2011

Even though Americans indicate that, as a result of the current economy, they have changed their behavior toward donating their time or money, substantial numbers of Americans still indicate a willingness to make contributions, albeit smaller ones and to fewer organizations. Further, when it comes to personal involvement in their communities and social causes, a significant minority indicates that they are willing to be actively involved; many more feel that any involvement shouldn’t be obligatory.

Here are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,620 adults surveyed nationally online between September 14 and 20, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Contributing Time or Money to Organizations

As a result of the current economy, Americans say that they have changed their behavior toward charitable giving in a number of ways. Since January 2009 when this question was last asked, people say they are giving smaller amounts (31%, the same as in 2009) or are giving to fewer organizations (19%, down from 24% in 2009). Further, more people are not making any donations at all (12%, increased from 6% in 2009) and are volunteering more (11%, up from 9% in 2009);

The charities that U.S. adults care most about personally and donate their time or money to the most are charities that focus on youth and families (21%), medical research (14%), and education (10%). The same types of causes (though in a different order) – education (19%), youth/families (18%) and medical research (12%) – are also the causes that people believe should be a priority for charities to focus their resources;

Many people are using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others to follow companies and nonprofit organizations. Among those who have taken action as a result of following a cause online (39%), over half (54%) say they have talked to a friend or a family member after reading something on a nonprofit or charitable organization’s social networking site, a third (33%) have contacted an elected representative, 31% have made a financial contribution to the organization, 23% have made a financial contribution to a cause the organization supports and 23% have attended an event sponsored by the organization.


Personal Responsibility

Many Americans are willing to make a small contribution of either time or money to show their support to organizations or causes (48%). This is unchanged from 2007 when 49% felt this way;

Only a third indicate that they are willing to get “extremely involved” (9%) or “give generously” (24%) to causes they believe in, while 13% say they don’t volunteer either their time or money;

A quarter of U.S. adults (24%) feel that people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being actively involved various issues. This is a decline from 2007 when three in ten (31%) also felt this way. Another one in five (21%) feel that 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;

Just under half (46%) feel that people can get involved in different causes but shouldn’t necessarily feel obligated to do so, which is up from the 40% who said this three years ago.


Effect of Corporate Social Responsibility on Purchasing

Over half of U.S. adults (53%) say that a company’s reputation for being socially responsible at least sometimes affects their decisions about what to buy. Just under 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.

So What?

Given the current state of the economy, it is not altogether surprising that people are saying they are giving smaller charitable contributions or giving to fewer organizations. However, people are still acknowledging that even small contributions are important. And significant numbers say they are still willing to be extremely involved or give generously of their time and money. As the economy slowly improves, it will be interesting to see if these positive sentiments toward giving and personal responsibility and involvement translate into an improved picture for charities and other non-profits.



“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



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



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



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



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



Not sure




 Check out the Harris Poll at


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