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‘Tis the season of giving? New survey says perhaps not

The holiday season may not get many Americans into the giving spirit

Nov. 17, 2015

Many people associate the holiday season with giving, but contrary to popular belief, 71 percent of Americans say the holidays have no impact on their contributions to charitable organizations, according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index. With countless organizations seeking donations during this time of year, those that align with a person’s passions may find the greatest success.

Americans invest time and money

When it comes to giving, many Americans want to give more, especially millennials. What’s more valuable: time or money? Americans find importance in each. Forty-two percent of respondents would prefer to donate both time and money to a cause. If they won a million dollars, a majority (about 87 percent) would donate a portion of it to charity. Most Americans, however, would donate 25 percent or less of their winnings.

Thirty-four percent of Americans report being a contributor to charitable causes on an annual or monthly basis. Others may want to do the same, but a lack of means may deter them. Twenty-four percent wish they were able to build charitable contributions into their budget.

“Charitable giving doesn’t have to be wishful thinking,” says Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security at COUNTRY Financial. “With the new year approaching, now is the perfect time to revisit your financial plan and build in philanthropic donations.”

Compared to other generations, millennials had the highest desire (35 percent) to plan better and build donations into their budget.

These younger Americans also realize they don’t, or perhaps aren’t able to, contribute as much as others. Forty-seven percent of millennials view their generation as less charitable than other generations.

Passion drives donations

What drives donations? More than 30 percent choose a cause they are personally passionate about. Secondary factors enticing donors to open their wallets include a cause that personally impacted them or their family (25 percent) and a cause that has a strong tie to their local community (23 percent).

That may explain why products with philanthropic ties won’t necessarily excite shoppers this holiday season. In fact, 45 percent say they don’t consider a product’s charitable efforts when making purchases. Some shoppers (29 percent) don’t seek out brands or products with a philanthropic focus, but when they find these products, they are willing to pay more for them.

Planning for philanthropic involvement

“Charitable giving should feel rewarding, not stressful. A little planning and management can help you make the most of your gift," adds Buhrmann.

Tips to effectively give back this season and in the year ahead include:

  • Choose a relevant cause: When deciding to make a reoccurring or large charitable donation, choose a cause that is important to you and an organization you are familiar with. Knowing the charity’s work will give you confidence your gift is being well utilized.
  • Budget to give back: Like other expenses, a charitable donation should be built into your budget so giving doesn’t deter your financial plan. When developing a yearly financial plan, map out how much you plan to give and when the gifts will occur.
  • Give efficiently: Make sure your donation is tax deductible and get a receipt, regardless of the amount. Remember that contributions must be made by Dec. 31, 2015 to be deductible for that tax year. Additionally, consider payroll deductions if that option is available to you.

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®

Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans’ sentiments of their personal financial security. The Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @hellocountry.

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by GfK, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,000 U.S. adults for national surveys. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.