Amazing Statistics About America’s Giving

Americans are some of the most generous people on earth. While big donations made by the rich or by giant corporations tend to get a lot of notice, it’s actually the daily Red Cross clothes donation and the behind-the-scenes giving of millions of ordinary Americans that does the most. Here are some amazing statistics about those Red Cross clothes donation events, and other ways that Americans give.

  • The vast majority of giving is from individuals. In fact, 72% of all contributions given in 2014 were from individuals and household, rather than from groups or businesses.
  • The richest give, and the poorest give. When the IRS did a Statistics of Income look at those who itemized giving on their tax return, they found something interesting. When charitable giving was considered as a percentage of income, those at the top and bottom of the income spectrum were giving the highest percentages. The people in the middle were giving the least. Those making more than $200,000 a year gave 3.1% of their income, while those making less than $100,000 gave 3.6%. The people in the middle were only giving 2.6%.
  • It’s not your imagination: people really are more generous around the holidays. It’s at holiday time that people really think about making a Red Cross clothes donation, sending money to families in need, or arranging a Red Cross pickup. Not only do used clothing donations pick up, but people also donate more money, too. Respondents to a 2007 survey reported that 24% of their annual donations were given between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Certain states are more generous than others. Nationally, the average deduction for charity on a tax return was $1,201 in the year 2011. The citizens of Utah had the highest deduction, with an average of $2,516 per return, and West Virginia had the lowest at $620 on the average return.
  • American giving has gone up steadily since 1977. There were three outlier years where levels actually declined–1987, 2008, and 2009–but for most of the last forty years Americans have been steadily giving more.
  • Money and clothes are not all we have to give. It’s not all just money or even going to a drop off center to donate clothes. It’s also about giving of our time and even of ourselves. About 25% of American adults volunteer for charities they believe in. Women volunteer more often than men, and people between the ages of 35 and 54 are most likely to volunteer, while those 20-24 are the least likely. The four areas where we donate the most time is in food collection and distribution, fundraising, providing labor or transport, or teaching.
  • A lot of clothing donations end up going abroad. Americans simply consume too much and there’s not enough need within the country for every Red Cross clothes donation that is given. This doesn’t mean any of us should stop, though. If clothing isn’t given away or sold here, it goes to the developing world. There it not only does good for the needy, but is also critical to the infrastructure of the local economies. From tailors to truck drivers, clothing sorters to traders, imports of secondhand clothes can change the lives of those with the most need, providing quality clothing at affordable prices as well as jobs for many in the community.

There are many reasons to arrange a clothing donation pickup, get out your checkbook, or volunteer your time. You’re setting a good example for your children, keeping textiles and clothing out of our landfills, and supporting the poor and needy in America and around the world. America has a reputation for individual generosity: are you on board?

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