More than six out of 10 (63%) Americans are planning to donate to charities this holiday season. While the number of donors is nearly the same as reported in 1998 (62%), the dollar value of donations has increased. Almost one out of three Americans plan to donate more this holiday, a 25 percent increase over last year,* according to a survey by Quicken® TurboTax®, America's best-selling tax preparation software.
The destruction and devastation left behind by the likes of Hurricane Floyd, the cyclone in India and the recent earthquakes in Turkey have touched the hearts of millions of Americans. Nineteen percent of Americans plan to donate to disaster relief efforts this season. More than two out of five (43%) donors increasing their giving say it is in direct response to these recent natural disasters.
Aside from natural disasters, the robust U.S. economy and stock market highs account for the second biggest reason why Americans are increasing their donations. Of those giving more this holiday season, 37 percent attribute their generosity to the economic prosperity of the country. Americans claiming to donate the same amount dropped to 50 percent from 59 percent,* while donors giving less remained unchanged from last year at 13 percent.
Surprisingly, Uncle Sam's rules don't seem to be a major factor in the charitable decisions of Americans. In fact, only five percent of donors give to charity for tax purposes. The majority (64%) of Americans donate out of the goodness of their hearts because it is the "right thing to do." Other reasons why Americans are making charitable donations this holiday season include:
- "Holidays put me in a generous mood" (18%)
- "It's a family tradition" (17%)
- "I deal with my personal finances at the end of the year" (7%)
According to the TurboTax survey, many donors don't even take advantage of the tax benefits of charitable giving. Only one in three donors obtain receipts and keep detailed records for tax purposes.
"Many taxpayers do not keep track of their charitable donations because they are unsure how to classify them and are uncertain whether they are eligible to take a deduction," said Tony Cook, managing editor of Quicken.com. "TurboTax can help them keep track of charity receipts throughout the year, while offering advice on how to reap the advantages of tax deductions associated with charitable donations."
The TurboTax survey also revealed that volunteerism is on the rise. While the majority still prefer to give money, 36 percent of those polled have donated their time to a charity this year - almost a 50 percent jump from 1998.* Another 34 percent of Americans plan to volunteer at some point this holiday season.
While volunteerism and charitable dollars are up, "e-giving" is not. Only three percent of respondents have used the Internet to investigate a charity. Fewer still have donated money via credit card over the Web (1%). The majority of Americans (59%) still favor writing an old-fashioned check for their charitable donations.
Whether receiving donations by check, credit card or over the Internet, many charitable organizations benefit from these philanthropic efforts. Religious groups (52%), organizations that feed and clothe children (51%), and charities that benefit the poor and homeless (50%) remain the most popular recipients of donations. Other popular recipients include:
- Health and Research (23%)
- Education (15%)
- Disaster relief (19%)
The TurboTax survey was conducted by Bruskin Goldring Research, which polled 1,035 American adults November 12-14, 1999. The overall margin of error is a maximum of +/- 3.2 percentage points. For a full copy of the survey, contact Mary Coyle at 212-213-7112.