I'm just wondering how many of you caught 20/20's terrific piece on charity and charitable giving in the United States last night?
In case you missed it, I wanted to give you just the highlights. Keep in mind that what I'm about to share with you is information culled both from academics studies and informal 'experiments' run by ABC in the course of producing last night's 20/20, so this is pretty good information:
- Americans, as a whole, give more to charity than the citizens of any other country. The average American donates $1800 per year to charity.
- The Americans who give the largest percentage of their income to charity are the 'working poor.' While people in this demographic can't give thousands or millions to charity, the amounts that they DO give represent an enormous percentage of their gross income.
- The Americans who give the smallest percentage of their income to charity are the extremely wealthy - persons with net worths of $1 billion or more. While people in this demographic give the highest dollar amounts to charity, the amounts that they give represent around 1-2% of their income, as opposed to an average of 10-15% for people classed as the 'working poor.'
- The one indicator that is the best predictor of whether or not a person will give to charity is whether or not the person considers him / herself 'religious' or 'spiritual.' Persons who consider themselves to be either religious or spiritual outgive people from every other demographic, both in terms of dollars and in terms of percentage of income donated to charity.
The show also featured an in-depth discussion of the medical benefits experienced by people who contribute to charity on a regular basis (these have been detailed in several prominent studies) and interviews with people of every class, from billionaires like Ted Turner to people barely making ends meet working in a meat-packing plant, about why they do / don't give to others, even when doing so should be either extremely difficult or very easy for them.
But all of this is just scratching the surface. Taken as a whole - and in my personal opinion - last night's 20/20 was simply the best hour on Americans and charity that I have ever seen. Period.
I could say much more, but really, I'm interested to hear if you saw this 20/20 and, if so, what you thought of it. I'd love to hear your comments.
Have a great day!