Majority of U.S. Households Give to Charity, Study Finds

While nearly six in ten U.S. households routinely contribute to charity, a fairly large proportion — almost a third — give in some years but not in others, a new study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds.

Conducted by the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS) in conjunction with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research's Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the biannual survey asked the same eight thousand families about their charitable giving in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and found that 68 percent of the households surveyed donated at least $25 to charity in 2004, the most recent year for which household giving data are available; households that gave contributed an average of $2,045. The survey also found that 56 percent of households donated during each of the three years, 29 percent contributed in some but not all three years, and 15 percent did not contribute at all. COPPS is believed to be the first survey to examine the proportion of Americans who switch between giving and not giving.

"Nonprofits' ability to encourage donors to keep giving is vital to raising needed funds," said Eugene R. Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "Finding that a sizable portion of people who give in one year do not make any gifts at all the following year opens the door to greater understanding of the factors that influence people's giving and what causes those behaviors to change. The more we understand these factors, the more we can help donors, nonprofits, and policy makers understand philanthropy and their roles in shaping it."

For more information on the survey's findings, visit the Center on Philanthropy Web site.

"Majority of U.S. Households Give an Average of $2,045 to Charity, New Study Shows." Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University Press Release 12/04/2007.