More Americans to Cut Holiday Spending; Still Generous to Charities

More Americans are expected to reduce their spending on presents compared to 2009. But half of the population says it would consider giving to charity instead, a new study found.

Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans say they will spend less on holiday presents this year because of the economic climate, according to a World Vision study conducted by Harris Interactive. By comparison, only 57 percent of Americans said the same last holiday season.

The study also shows that about half of Americans (51 percent) said they would be more likely to give a charitable gift as a holiday present. The question was not asked in last year's World Vision-Harris Interactive holiday survey, so no comparison can be made.

However, last year's survey found that more than three in four U.S. adults (76 percent) would prefer to receive a meaningful gift that would help someone else instead of a traditional holiday gift like clothing or electronic.

Similar to the World Vision survey results, the American Red Cross national survey found that Americans are expected to be generous in their charitable giving this holiday season. Nearly three in four people (72 percent) expect to give more or about the same to charity as they did last year. The support for charities during the holiday season comes despite the fact that 86 percent of Americans say their personal finances are the same or worse than they were the previous year.

Devin Hermanson, senior director of World Vision-U.S. Gift Catalog, remarked, "This survey shows that, during uncertain economic times, Americans continue to prioritize helping those in need."

He added, "Americans are determined to reach out with charitable gifts like those found in the World Vision Gift Catalog this Christmas season."

World Vision, a Christian international relief and development organization, releases an annual gift catalog where people can purchase items such as goats, water wells, and medicine for needy people in the name of a friend, family member, or business associate.

Providing a family with a goat ($75) is the most popular item in the World Vision gift catalog. Other gifts include two chickens ($25), education for one child ($32), hope for sexually exploited girls ($35), and building supplies for Haiti ($300).

Last year, the gift catalog raised $27 million – up from $18 million in 2009 – and provided assistance to more than 675,000 people around the world. This year's goal is to raise $32 million. Since the catalog's release in 1996, it has raised over $130 million.

The World Vision-Harris Interactive survey was conducted by telephone with 1,021 U.S. adults, November 3-7, 2010.

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