Study: Generous People Include “Charitable Donations” in Their Budget

What group donates to charity at a rate 7 times higher than others? Americans who include monetary charitable giving in their annual budget. They give nearly 7 times more dollars, on average, than those who do not budget at all. “Charity budgeters” give $2,453 annually, on average, and those who do not budget for charity give $355 annually, on average. This means only 44% of Americans who donated to charity in the past 12 months include a line item for charitable donations in their annual budget, but those who do so are more generous with how much they give.

These findings come from an online survey of 2,075 US adults conducted in September 2021 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Vanguard Charitable. "The charitable giving we've seen over the past year has been inspiring in the face of devastating circumstances," says Rebecca Moffett, President of Vanguard Charitable. “This survey data underscores that planning and budgeting can help individuals make the biggest charitable impact.”

While donors are united in their mission to make an impact, their motivations for giving vary. Donors who gave any amount over the past 12 months were most commonly inspired to give as a result of personal experience or as a result of current events such as COVID-19 or a natural disaster. However, among Americans who gave $250 or more in the last year, the top motivator for their donations was by the urge to stick with their charitable giving budget (33%).

Other key survey findings include:

• On the heels of a record giving year in 2020, Americans remain engaged and active in philanthropy throughout 2021, with nearly three in four Americans (73%) giving money to charities in the past 12 months.
• 1 in 6 Americans gave a substantial donation; 16% of donors gave more than $1,000 in the past 12 months.

For more information on giving patterns and fundraising, see ECFA.org/surveys to download ECFA’s most recent survey research


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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