We The People: Americans more altruistic, charitable than most assume

NEW YORK — It feels like America has never been more divided in 2020. An uplifting recent survey, however, finds most Americans are still willing to help out strangers and perform acts of kindness toward others.

In all, 2,000 Americans were surveyed, and the average respondent claims they perform between four and five acts of charity each week. That works out to 231 charitable acts annually. Moreover, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the survey also suggests that Americans are more willing than ever before to give back and help people.

Commissioned by Cooper Tires, the survey also notes that 55% of Americans have “paid it forward” and helped a complete stranger at least once in the past. Similarly, 53% said that if someone ahead of them in a drive-thru line paid for their food, they would in turn “happily” pay for the meal of the person behind them. In fact, 45% went so far as to say they would still pay for another’s meal even if it was double the cost of what they originally ordered.

Giving back during hard times

It’s clear that COVID-19 has had an effect on Americans’ good deeds. More than half (55%) believe they are more charitable today than just six months ago.

According to the research, the average American will volunteer four times and donate $178 to charity annually. Meanwhile, 75% say that they usually feel “a lot better” about themselves after donating money or doing a good deed.

Most Americans (78%) always try to give back to their local communities. Three in four say they’re doing their best to pass down these values to their children.

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When asked what would motivate them to do or donate more, 83% agree they would like to know exactly what their donations are going toward. Nearly the same number (79%) feels that way regarding volunteer work, too.

Most common ways to be charitable

So what are the top ways Americans give back to their communities? The most frequent answer to that question is donating to a food drive (46%). That’s followed by donating to a charity (44%), supporting local farmers (38%), donating blood (38%), and participating in a fundraiser walk or run (30%).

Many respondents also want to do more to help and recognize first responders. Close to nine in 10 (89%) of respondents say that first responders are underappreciated. And 73% wish their community was doing more to help first responders.

Half of the survey’s participants say they personally know a first responder, but 76% wouldn’t hesitate to buy a first responder’s meal at a restaurant. Another 77% would go out of their way to approach a first responder and personally thank them.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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