Are Consumers Feeling Generous this Holiday Season?

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Non-profits everywhere can hear the holiday bells ringing. People seem to be more jolly around the holidays, especially when it comes to charitable giving. About 34% of annual giving is donated at the end of the year. According to the Blackbaud Index, charitable donations are up this fall compared to the same time last year, which is good news for non-profits. In fact, some people may donate money to charity instead of buying holiday gifts for others this year.

In early October, we turned to our polling platform to ask U.S. adults whether they would be making a charitable contribution instead of giving a gift to someone this holiday season. We then profiled the respondents based on their giving intent in order to see who’s most likely to give back. After collecting a sample of 4,590 U.S. adult consumers, we found that many people are open to the idea of making a charitable contribution instead of giving a holiday gift.

Charitable giving Holidays 2014

11% of people answered “Yes, definitely,” while 17% answered “Maybe.” 28% of U.S. adults are either donating or are considering donating this holiday season. Another 13% say it’s an interesting idea, but have not yet decided whether or not this is an option. 59% of U.S. adults answered “Probably not” or “Can’t see myself doing that.”

We looked at the following groups to get a better understanding of their demographic and psychographic profiles, which will allow non-profits to focus their attention and outreach on likely or potential donors:

  • Definite Donors =  answered “Yes, definitely”
  • Potential Donors = answered “Maybe”
  • Non-Donors = answered “Probably not” or “Can’t see myself doing that”

We did not look further into those who said it was an interesting idea, because they had no commitment as to whether they were going to donate or not.

Below is a table summarizing some key finds for these three segments:

Charitable giving Holidays 2014 table 1

Additional Insights:

Charitable giving Holidays 2014 table 2

Those who will definitely make a charitable contribution instead of giving a holiday gift are likely to be women and are more likely than the others to be 55+ years old homeowners. They have a higher education, with 28% holding a graduate or PhD and the majority are parents or grandparents. Compared to the other groups, definite donors are more likely to buy locally-grown food and are less likely to eat fast food each month. Definite donors are more likely to go to the movies at least a few times a year and subscribe to a print newspaper (which we often see among older individuals). In terms of personal digital devices, definite donors are more likely to own e-Readers, slightly less likely to own tablets and are less likely to own smartphones. Lastly, they are much more likely than the others to follow financial markets very closely.

Just like the retail industry, the holidays are an important time for non-profits. Charitable donations seem to fluctuate with economic confidence. Non-profits may have a bright holiday season ahead of them since the HPS-CS Economic Sentiment Index is on the rise, meaning consumer confidence in the economy is up. By focusing their efforts on the definite donors and potential donors, non-profits will be able to add to an already successful start of a holiday season.


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