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Giving Money, Not Time, Preferred Method of Giving

(April 17, 2006) American adults are more likely to donate money than time to causes they support, according to a national survey by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a membership organization that creates, manages and funds outreach programs that support congregations, schools, nonprofits and individuals in need.

Interestingly, the findings represent a reversal from the 2005 study, when the majority of respondents said they found it easer to give their time in place of their money.

According to the study, 50 percent of American adults, up 13 percent from 2005, said they found it easier to give their money than their time to a charitable cause, while only 32 percent of respondents, down 10 percent from 2005, believed it would be easier to volunteer their time. However, 14 percent of respondents said they thought both forms of giving were equally easy.

Despite this change in attitude, 57 percent of adults still reported they volunteered in an activity sponsored by a third party, while 43 percent had not volunteered in a structured activity.

“While these numbers remain a positive indicator of the health of the nonprofit sector, they also must serve to remind us of the importance of donor stewardship, not only in terms of money, but also volunteering,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). “For many charities, volunteers are the backbone of their organization, and they cannot afford to lose such an invaluable asset.”

Other Factors

The study also analyzed the affects of age and geography on preferred means of giving. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, were more likely to say it is easier to give one’s time than one’s money (49 percent) to a charitable cause, while pre-retirees (ages 55 to 64) were more likely to say giving one’s money was easier (56 percent).

Preferences also changed depending on geographic location. While 64 percent of those living in the Northeast favored giving one’s money, just 39 percent of Westerners agreed. Conversely, 40 percent of Westerners said they thought supporting a charitable cause through volunteering was easiest, while 22 percent of those living in the Northeast agreed.

The Year Ahead

Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) Americans who volunteered in 2005 reported that they planned to spend the same number of hours volunteering in 2006 as they did in 2005, according to the survey. Twenty-two percent reported they intended to spend more hours, and nine percent said they anticipated volunteering fewer hours this year. Those most likely to say they planned to volunteer more hours included pre-retirees (30 percent), those having household incomes of less than $25,000 (25 percent), those living in the West (28 percent), and those not employed (33 percent).

About the Study

Telephone interviews were conducted for Thrivent Financial by Synovate TeleNation Research, Chicago, Ill., between Dec. 2-4, 2005, among a nationwide sample of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The margin of error for questions posed to all 1,000 respondents is +/- 3 percent. For more information, visit

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