I recently visited a small town where flash floods had washed out roads and houses. While I was there it was impressive to see the number of local fundraisers to help those affected. We had strawberry shortcake and spaghetti dinners all as part of raising money. The food was really good but even better was the feeling of directly helping neighbors.
There’s something interesting in the American psyche that leads to a high level of giving. And it’s not just money. We’re the most likely to help out a stranger in need (65%)1. We volunteer in large numbers (39%)1. We even give after we’ve died. And we give across the income spectrum2. People in other countries give as well but the US consistently ranks high in level of giving around the world. There is a big focus in our economy and culture on making money. What makes us givers too and why?
I’m not in a position to answer this question but I can point to some interesting statistics I found in my quick search of the topic. Ever since Alexis de Tocqueville studied the American society it’s been clear that there are some differences here. I remember learning in high school one of his observations was that we join community groups in high numbers. It makes sense that being part of an organization doing something good is more fun than doing it on your own.
We also tend to be more religious than other high income nations, at almost double the rate of countries like Germany, Britain, and Australia (over 50% vs 20-30%)3. A lot of giving is done through religious organizations but there are significant amounts given for medical research, symphonies, and through gofundme campaigns as well.
And my personal favorite is a statistic about optimism. Americans are more upbeat than most of our international peers. Over 40% say today is a good day compared to around 20% in France, the UK, Spain, and Mexico3. Maybe a little optimism helps increase our desire to give and pass on some help and positive outlook to others.
If you have a story to share about giving, want to add a giving plan to your investment portfolio, or have a good strawberry shortcake recipe to share, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org