Americans Want to Help People in Greatest Need

February 24th, 2021

Charitable Giving Survey Finds Similar Priorities Across Demographics

In a nationally representative Giving Survey called “How Do You Help Others,” more than 2,000 Americans were asked to allocate a hypothetical $100 to charitable causes of their choice. The result? A majority of participants (53%) identified their desire to support programs that help Americans coping with poverty or homelessness. Responders selected from 16 charitable cause categories, including animal welfare, healthcare, homelessness, veterans’ groups, houses of worship, international aid, higher education, and others.

“Seeing that most Americans, first and foremost, want to help people in need is heartening and aligns with our fundraising data,” said Craig DePole, President of Newport ONE, which sponsored the research. “Helping people living in poverty was especially important to people ages 45 and under, by about 60% compared with 53% overall. Poverty and homelessness issues were also important to people at the lower income level and to those who reported giving less than $100 to all charities the previous year. I am heartened and encouraged to see that both donors and nondonors across all socio-economic groups are most interested in helping neighbors in need.”

Protecting children from abuse and safeguarding their wellbeing (as in foster care) ranked second among the individuals surveyed. Slightly less than half (49%) of participants allocated a share of their hypothetical $100 to helping children.

Health causes (47% of all participants), disaster relief (also 47%) and animal welfare (46%) ranked close behind and rounded out the top five causes supported by all survey participants.

Survey participants were further analyzed by income levels and historical giving behavior, which revealed another layer of giving preference. Higher-income donors and those whose charitable giving totalled more than $100 in 2019 ranked veteran-related charities and higher education higher than other income groups. The full report contains additional analysis by subsidiary groups.

One notable finding emerged when donor age was also considered in conjunction with giving patterns. Consistently, older donors directed larger amounts of their hypothetical $100 charity budget to fewer causes, while younger donors (under age 45) spread their charitable giving by distributing smaller amounts across more charities.

“The Boomer and Silent generations appear to have established their core causes that they believe in and want to support,” said Ron Sellers of Grey Matter Research. “Younger people are more likely to scatter small amounts of money across a variety of causes rather than concentrating their giving on only a few.” Analysts at Grey Matter Research (Henderson, NV), Chamberlin-Dunn (Indianapolis), and Melissa S. Brown & Associates (Vancouver, WA) conducted the research and interpreted results.

Beyond identifying hypothetical giving patterns, the Giving Study sought to identify what donors and non-donors want in return from charitable organizations as they consider making charitable gifts. The survey found:

  • People valued clear communication about how their gifts would make a difference and
  • Donors and non-donors sought options to give using mobile devices or computers, with payment forms that include PayPal or similar payment services.

“Charitable organizations will raise more funds for their causes if they can communicate clearly how gifts of any size will help people,” added DePole.

The report is available at


About Newport ONE

Newport ONE is a full-service, direct response fundraising agency that is committed to pushing the limits of fundraising for a better tomorrow. Through the power of ONE, a difference can be made in the world: one organization and one donor at a time. Partnering with some of the most innovative organizations in the animal welfare, environmental preservation, international relief and human services sectors, Newport ONE is helping rethink what direct response fundraising is to evolve it into what it should be. 

Category: News