Americans volunteering in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This year Americans are giving more than just their thanks. According to a recent Bankrate.com survey, 96 percent of Americans say they made or will make a charitable donation by the end of 2017.

The report coincides with Giving Tuesday, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is widely recognized as a day when individuals and businesses ramp up their holiday and end-of-the-year donations

According to the survey, approximately one out of five givers say that their contributions will be larger this year than last year.

“With everything going on in the world, it’s important to me to do what I can,” says Melissa Terrio, 44, an admissions director in Weston, Massachusetts.

What gives?

Our increased generosity can be at least partially attributed to a robust economy. Just over a third of those who say they gave more this year credit their charity to an increase in household income.  This aligns with a recent U.S. Census Bureau report which shows that median household income rose two years in a row.

When you’re feeling flush, it can be less of a strain on your finances to give to others. One easy way to contribute to your favorite cause is to use the earnings from your favorite rewards credit card. You can donate a portion or all of your cash-back earnings.

Lauren Cohen, 50, of Boca Raton, Florida, says that when her immigration concierge company is doing well, she finds it easier to donate more to her favorite causes.

“My fluctuation in giving is tied to my fluctuation in business because I own my own company,” says Cohen.

The unfortunate spate of natural disasters in 2017 also played a part in motivating would-be donors to give more, with 15 percent of those in the survey indicating that hurricanes and other catastrophic phenomena were responsible for their increased giving.

Using the right travel rewards card could generate a surplus of airline miles, which can be used by some charities to support humanitarian efforts, such as flying people out of hurricane-ravaged areas or getting disaster relief into an area affected by an earthquake. You can also donate frequent-flyer miles to organizations like the Red Cross.

Doing good can also do you some good at tax time. Donations made to an IRS-qualified charity might lower your tax burden if you itemize deductions.

Ways and means

Overall, the survey found that 40 percent of those who make charitable contributions choose to give financially, primarily via cash, check, or debit card payment. Companies who give generously to charitable causes may want to consider a business credit card that offers rewards for charitable giving.

The survey also found that just over one-third of Americans satisfy their desire to give by donating clothing, food, or other goods.

“I donate clothes to Goodwill and canned goods and other nonperishables to food banks,” says Terrio. Terrio prefers to donate this way because she knows it will go directly to those who need it.

Donating time was the third most popular method of charitable giving, with 19% of respondents who donate in some way choosing to carve out space in their schedules instead of their wallets.

“I love volunteering,” says Adia Johnson, 32, of Brooklyn, New York. Johnson, who works full-time for a university, estimates that she spends about 20 hours or more month leading a local Girl Scout troop and managing a scholarship fund she helped create at her alma mater. “I wanted to do something and give back to my community in the same way it was giving to me.”

Read more of Bankrate’s Money Pulse surveys.

This study was conducted for Bankrate.com via landline and cell phone by SSRS on its Omnibus survey platform. Interviews were conducted from November 8 – 12, 2017, among a sample of 1,010 respondents. The margin of error for total respondents is +/- 3.65% at the 95% confidence level. SSRS Omnibus is a national, weekly, dual-frame bilingual telephone survey. All SSRS Omnibus data are weighted to represent the target population.

Promoted Stories