Percentage of Americans Donating to Charity Hits New Low, Survey Finds

Percentage of Americans Donating to Charity Hits New Low, Survey Finds

At a time when more families are in need of assistance but fewer are in a financial position to provide such assistance, the percentage of Americans donating to charity has hit a new low, a survey by Gallup finds.

The survey of more than a thousand adults conducted between April 14 and 28 found that 73 percent of respondents reported giving to charity in the past year, down from 83 percent in both 2013 and 2017. The previous low was 79 percent in 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession. The percentage of respondents saying they had volunteered in the past year also fell, to 58 percent from 64 percent in 2017, but remained above the 55 percent low recorded in 2009.

According to the survey, charitable giving is down across all income groups since 2017 but more significantly among middle- and lower-income households. Among respondents with household incomes of at least $100,000, 87 percent reported donating to charity, down from 92 percent, compared with 78 percent of those with household incomes between $40,000 and $99,000, down from 90 percent, and 56 percent of those with household incomes below $40,000, down from 73 percent. The decline in volunteering was largest among middle-income households, falling to 58 percent, from 71 percent in 2017. 

The survey also found that 29 percent of all respondents said they had made a donation to or volunteered in the past two months for a coronavirus relief effort, including 43 percent of high-income, 27 percent of middle-income, and 20 percent of low-income respondents; and that 66 percent of respondents said they did not plan to change the amount they give to charity in the coming year, while 25 percent planned to give more and 7 percent planned to give less. Those who said they would give more included 40 percent of high-income respondents, 23 percent of middle-income respondents, and 17 percent of low-income respondents. 

"Currently, most Americans do not plan to cut back on their donations, and roughly one in four plan to increase them," the report's authors write. "The duration and severity of the economic downturn will be a key factor in whether Americans are able to fulfill those intentions."

"Percentage of Americans Donating to Charity at New Low." Gallup Press Release 05/14/2020. "Gallup News Service April Wave 2 Final Topline." Gallup Survey 05/14/2020.