Ever Heard of Giving Tuesday? 87% of Americans Haven’t

Year over year, Americans increasingly feel that no one should be obligated to get involved with charitable giving if they don’t want to

05:00 AM EST Nov 17, 2015 Rating
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Ever Heard of Giving Tuesday? 87% of Americans Haven’t

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The holiday season brings many things. There are family gatherings and delicious food. There’s a day for giving thanks and several days for scoring deals on holiday shopping. It’s also a season when many people give back to their communities. In 2012, a day was set aside for just this purpose when New York City’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation started Giving Tuesday to create a global day of giving. It’s an annual event that takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, three years after its creation, awareness of this day remains very low among Americans, as 87% say they’ve never heard of it.

And while 86% say they don’t need a holiday to tell them when to give, many adults may be in support of the idea of Giving Tuesday after all. After hearing about it, three quarters (75%) of Americans say this day represents what the holiday season should be about.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,273 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 12 and 17, 2015.

Attitudes towards giving

When it comes to charitable giving as a general concept, Americans are increasingly likely to see this sort of engagement as an option, not a responsibility. Half (50%) of Americans believe that people can get involved with different issues and causes if they want to, but that no one should be obligated to do so (a sentiment that has steadily increased since 2007, when 40% said the same). Conversely, the attitude that people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being actively involved with various issues and causes has seen a marked decrease since 2007 (21% today, down 10 points).

Prioritizing charitable causes

With a plethora of causes to choose from, which do Americans believe are the most important? When it comes to the causes Americans feel charities should focus their resources on, human rights (15%, up 6 points from 2010), youth/families (14%, down 4 points), education (13%, down 6 points), and medical research (13%, down one point) top the list. Fewer indicate disaster relief (8%), global health (4%), and animals (4%).

However, Americans don’t personally prioritize their charitable spending along the same lines. When asking Americans which charities they personally care most about donating to, youth/families rises to the top (19%), followed by medical research (13%). And while the lowest percentage of Americans cites animals as an important cause for charities to focus on, they ranked third among the types of charities adults want to give their own donations to (12%). Human rights, the top cause Americans believe charities to focus on, drops down to fifth place with just 8% indicating it’s among the charities they donate to themselves.

Corporate giving

Many companies work to foster a socially responsible reputation by giving back as well. Nearly three quarters of Americans (73%) agree that a company’s reputation for social responsibility has at least some effect on them when deciding what to buy and who to do business with.

When asked whether corporations or individuals should be donating to a variety of types of causes, Americans offer some clear opinions:

 

 

TABLE 1a

ATTITUDES TOWARD PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT - Trend

“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

July 2014

August 2015

%

%

%

%

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

40

46

48

50

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

19

21

17

21

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

31

24

25

21

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

1

3

4

2

Not sure

9

6

6

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 1b

ATTITUDES TOWARD PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT – by Generation, Political Party & Gender

“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

 

Total

Generation

Political Party

Gender

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

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

50

44

44

58

55

54

45

55

50

49

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

21

23

24

17

19

20

23

19

21

21

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

21

23

22

19

19

19

23

19

20

21

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

2

3

2

1

4

3

1

4

3

3

Not sure.

6

7

8

6

3

6

5

6

6

7

Note: Multiple responses allowed


 

TABLE 2

BIGGEST PRIORITY CHARITIES SHOULD FOCUS RESOURCES ON – by Generation & Political Party

Thinking about the state of the world today, which types of causes do you believe should be the

biggest priority for charities to focus their resources?” 

Base: All Adults

 

2010 Total

2014 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Political Party

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Human Rights

9

12

15

20

10

16

6

8

19

16

Youth/families

18

16

14

14

20

11

10

19

11

14

Education

19

15

13

17

12

11

13

14

14

11

Medical Research

12

11

13

10

13

15

16

16

13

12

Environmental

9

7

11

14

10

9

9

5

15

10

Disaster Relief

7

10

8

5

6

9

15

13

5

7

Global Health

6

7

6

5

7

6

8

5

8

6

Animals

3

4

4

3

6

4

4

6

3

5

Other

5

4

3

3

3

3

4

4

1

6

Not at all sure

12

13

12

8

13

15

14

10

11

13

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 3

CHARITY TYPE CARE MOST ABOUT PERSONALLY – by Generation & Political Party

And, which types of charities do you care most about personally, and/or donate your time and/or money to the most?”

Base: All Adults

 

2010 Total

2014 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Political Party

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Youth/families

21

18

19

22

23

16

14

25

14

21

Medical research

14

12

13

9

13

16

16

14

14

11

Animals

8

12

12

11

14

14

7

12

11

13

Education

10

11

9

13

8

6

7

8

12

7

Human rights

6

7

8

12

8

6

4

2

13

8

Environmental

6

6

7

10

7

6

5

3

10

6

Disaster relief

5

7

5

4

3

8

7

7

4

6

Global health

3

3

3

4

4

1

5

2

3

3

Other

15

13

10

5

7

14

22

15

6

12

Not sure at all

12

12

13

11

13

14

13

12

12

12

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 


TABLE 4a

EFFECT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ON PURCHASE DECISIONS - Trend

“How much effect would you say a company’s reputation for social responsibility has on your own decisions about what to buy and who to do business with?”  

Base: All adults

 

May 2007

Sept 2010

July 2014

August 2015

%

%

%

%

It has a strong effect on my decisions

16

18

17

18

It sometimes affects my decisions

34

35

34

31

It affects my decisions once in a while

28

23

25

24

No effect at all

22

17

17

19

Not sure

*

7

7

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding; * indicates that this was not offered as a response choice in 2007

 

TABLE 4b

EFFECT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ON PURCHASE DECISIONS

by Generation, Political Party

“How much effect would you say a company’s reputation for social responsibility has on your own decisions about what to buy and who to do business with?”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Generation

Political Party

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

ANY EFFECT (NET)

73

78

71

71

65

69

77

71

It has a strong effect on my decisions

18

18

16

20

15

16

25

14

It sometimes affects my decisions

31

34

33

27

27

28

32

30

It affects my decisions once in a while

24

26

21

24

24

26

20

27

No effect at all

19

13

19

22

24

25

15

20

Not sure

9

9

10

7

10

6

8

9

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 


 

TABLE 5

EFFECT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ON PURCHASE DECISIONS

Grid Summary

“For each of the following types of charities please indicate whether you feel it is most appropriate for individuals or corporations to donate their time/money/resources.”  

Base: All Adults

 

 

Individual Donation

Corporate Donation

%

%

Animals

76

24

Youth/families

66

34

Human rights

49

51

Education

39

61

Disaster relief

35

65

Environmental

26

74

Medical research

25

75

Global health

23

77

 

TABLE 6

FAMILIARITY WITH GIVING TUESDAY – by Generation, Political Party & Gender

“Which of the following statements best describes your familiarity with Giving Tuesday?”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Generation

Political Party

Gender

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I have never heard of Giving Tuesday.

87

81

86

90

95

87

86

86

87

86

I’ve heard of Giving Tuesday, but I don’t know what it is.

6

10

6

3

3

5

6

8

7

5

I’ve heard of Giving Tuesday, but I have never participated.

5

5

7

5

1

7

5

5

4

6

I’ve participated in giving Tuesday.

2

4

2

1

1

1

4

2

2

2

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 7a

ATTITUDES TOWARDS GIVING TUESDAY

Grid Summary

“Giving Tuesday is an annual event that takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It was started in 2012 in an effort to create a national day of giving during the holiday season. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.”  

Base: All Adults

 

 

Strongly/ Somewhat agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Strongly/ Somewhat disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

I don’t need a holiday to tell me when to give

86

51

36

14

9

5

Giving Tuesday represents what the holiday season should be about

75

29

46

25

14

10

I am likely to make a contribution (e.g., donate time, money, resources) on Giving Tuesday

50

14

36

50

31

20

Giving Tuesday is unnecessary

42

17

25

58

32

26

 

 

TABLE 7b

ATTITUDES TOWARDS GIVING TUESDAY – by Generation, Political Party & Gender

Summary of “Strongly/somewhat agree (NET)”

“Giving Tuesday is an annual event that takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It was started in 2012 in an effort to create a national day of giving during the holiday season. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.”  

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Generation

Political Party

Gender

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I don’t need a holiday to tell me when to give

86

81

85

89

93

88

83

89

85

87

Giving Tuesday represents what the holiday season should be about

75

83

76

70

64

68

82

72

70

80

I am likely to make a contribution (e.g., donate time, money, resources) on Giving Tuesday

50

64

51

42

30

41

58

45

46

54

Giving Tuesday is unnecessary

42

30

41

46

66

47

36

48

49

36

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,273 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #71, November 17, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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