42% Of Americans Can’t Afford To Give

October 21, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

More than 7 out of 10 people see themselves as more generous than average but more people (59 percent) think donating time makes a bigger impact than donating money (41 percent).

The inaugural Money Mindset Report by Minneapolis, Minn.-based Thrivent Financial surveyed 1,001 Americans this past summer about their views on personal finances and giving back. The 28-page report was released today.

More Millennials (79 percent) consider their generosity to be above average than any other group. About three in four Gen Xers and 64 percent of Baby Boomers said they are much more generous or somewhat more generous than average. Overall, about a quarter of those surveyed said they were somewhat less generous than average, led by Baby Boomers (30 percent). About 1 in 5 Millennials and Gen Xers said they were somewhat less generous.

When it comes to actually giving in the past year, Baby Boomers have donated 12 times on average to a nonprofit and Millennials donated eight times. Three-quarters of Americans said they donated to a nonprofit during the last year.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they would rather be called generous than financially successful, a notion more prevalent among women (70 percent) than men (51 percent).

The majority of those surveyed, 71 percent, said they want to make more money to have more money yet 29 percent said they want to make more money so they can give more.

Almost a third of those surveyed said the purpose of earning money is to support the lifestyle they want to live and half said it was to protect their family’s future. When it comes to giving, 27 percent said the purpose of the money they make is to give back during their lifetime while 19 percent said it was to give back after they are gone.

Almost 9 out of 10 people said they would give more to nonprofits if they made more money. Of those, 59 percent feel they would need to make $5,000 or more a year to give more, including 21 percent who said they’d need to make at least $10,000 more, and 27 percent who said $20,000 or more.

Among the biggest obstacles to giving is affordability. Some 42 percent said they can’t afford to give. Almost 1 in 4 said they already give enough to nonprofits. About 1 in 8 said they it’s because they “can’t give enough to make a difference.”

Sixty-four percent of Americans – including 7 out of 10 Millennials – regularly volunteer for a nonprofit. The largest percentage of people (26 percent) volunteer at churches and organizations that help those in poverty (24 percent), according to the survey.

The report was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,001 nationally representative U.S. adults between July 16-27 using an email invitation and an online survey. There is a margin of error of 3.1 percent.