Survey: Americans Willing to Forgo Gifts for Charity Donations

Nearly 40 percent of Americans are willing to forgo another holiday gift and have that money given to charities instead, a recent survey shows.

Results from a new survey for the American Red Cross reveal that two out of three Americans say it's more important this year to give something to charity because of the economy.

Nearly one in four Americans has had their salary or work hours reduced; 14 percent say they have been laid off from a job; and 41 percent say they lost money in the stock market. Moreover, the majority of surveyed Americans say they know someone who has experienced such losses. Despite the financial challenges, most Americans say they want to give to charity.

Even workers who have had their salary or work hours reduced are no more likely than other Americans to be cutting back on donations. They are planning on donating as much to charity as other Americans this Christmas.

According to the survey of 1,001 adults, 68 percent agree that one good way to give more to charity would be to ask someone to donate to charity instead of buying a gift. Eighty percent say if someone asked them to make a donation to a charity instead of buying them a gift, they'd be happy to do it.

Organizations throughout the country are offering opportunities for people to give to the needy in the name of loved ones as a Christmas gift. The Red Cross has made available a holiday gift giving catalog, featuring such items as disaster comfort kits, patriot phone cards, and one month's supplies – all of which will be directed to those who may be celebrating the holidays with less this year.

"In this season of hope, the Red Cross is asking people to give a gift that can really save the day for someone in need," said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, in a statement.

World Vision's catalog, meanwhile, features livestock, clothing, education and monetary donations to help relieve the global food crisis, provide job training, and prevent AIDS, among other things.

Charity: water encourages people to start fundraising campaigns to build wells for clean drinking water rather than pile up on gifts they don't really need or even want.

"In the last 10 years, we've doubled the amount of storage space we need to hold our possessions," according to charity: water. "And yet almost a billion on the planet don't have access to the most basic thing. Clean, safe drinking water.

"America is about to spend another $450 billion to celebrate the holidays – that's enough to solve the water crisis several times over. People all over the world are giving up the gifts this year to give clean water to people in need."

Americans believe some of the best ways charities could go about asking for donations are: leaving donation boxes at checkout counters, mailing a letter, asking for donations at the mall or at store entrances, or enlisting people to ask their friends, according to the survey for the American Red Cross.

Most Americans plan to give to charity this year by putting money in a donation box or by mailing a check. Only 16 percent say they plan to give online.

And Americans are digging deep this year. Half of those who plan on donating to charity expect to donate more than $50.

The survey was conducted Nov. 5-8, 2009, by Caravan Opinion Research Corporation.

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