Why Americans Donate: What Motivates People to Give and What Causes Do They Give to?

Photo: WFP/Michael Castofas
World Food Program USA
Published November 24, 2023

Americans are generous, and it’s that collective generosity that helps make a profoundly positive impact on the world. Around the giving season, many people choose to donate to the charities and causes they care about most. Let’s take a look at which organizations Americans are giving to, why they donate and what inspires some of our own supporters to give to World Food Program USA.

Americans Are Generous

First, let’s acknowledge that Americans are generous people. That’s not just a comforting sentiment – there’s research to back it up. Charity Aid Foundation conducted research on countries around the world to analyze the percentage of people who helped strangers, volunteered or donated to a charity. From 2009-2018, the United States consistently ranked number one as the most generous country in the world. And in 2022, Americans were still towards the top as #3 most generous country.

In 2022, Americans gave an incredible $499.33 billion to charity. To put that into perspective, it averages out to every individual in the United States donating $1,500.

Corporations make up a small percentage of that giving: $21.08 billion. This is a good sign though, as it was a 3.4% increase from the previous year which indicates  companies are responding to customers like yourself who put value – and pressure – on businesses that are philanthropic. Is your company looking for a way to donate to charity? Contact us today.

The vast amount of American charitable contributions in 2022 – $319.04 billion – came from regular people just like you. That represents 64% of all charitable giving. The generosity of everyday Americans is driving positive change in the world.

What Causes Do Americans Donate to?

So, what are the causes or types of charities Americans give their money to? There are a lot of different ways to categorize this giving and there is overlap. Based on two surveys, some of the top categories include human services (which includes hunger, poverty and housing), religion (which is often redistributed towards other causes) and education.

What Are the Top Reasons Americans Give to Charity?

American generosity is fueled by different motivations. Once again, there are many ways to categorize this, and motivations do overlap, but most surveys have broken it down to personal values, belief in the cause, religious beliefs and personal experiences.

Why Do Americans Donate to World Food Program USA?

Americans generosity can be seen in the supporters of World Food Program USA. We have an incredible community of advocates who join us in our mission to end world hunger. Here are just a handful of the responses we received from our donors on why they gave to World Food Program USA.

Personal Values

Many of our donors believe it is their responsibility to help others in need, and they demonstrate it through their gifts to World Food Program USA.

“I am giving because I know it’s the right thing to do. I am called to do this and to inspire others to do the kind and loving thing by sharing our abundance.” – Joan from Florida

Belief in the Cause

Other donors to World Food Program USA give primarily because they believe in our mission and our work. They feel especially concerned for those who are experiencing hunger and starvation, and they want to be part of the solution.

“I chose to give today and set up a monthly donation because I care about feeding all people. I do not believe that anyone should go hungry.  It is not enough to wish for things to be better, like ending hunger, starvation and famine. We have to do our part.” – Edith from Virginia

“I believe in your mission and know for a fact that your organization has consistently delivered to and served the poorest of the poor children and families.” – Mitos from California

Faith and Religion

Our donors represent diverse religious backgrounds, and it’s often their faith that moves them to contribute.

“I donated today because I was moved by God to do so, may he continue to bless all those you reach.” – Joseph from Illinois

Personal Experience

For some of our donors, they have known hunger firsthand. Their personal experience helps them understand the pain that people who are hungry experience, and they don’t want others to continue suffering.

“What inspired me to give? I’ve known what it is to be hungry and to not know from where my next meal would come. Watching my mother cry while carefully going through our almost depleted garden and finding only a few scraggly green onions remaining. We were also able to find a few eggs from our henhouse. Those meager offerings fed 6 of us that day, and my mother still cried. Once you’ve known real hunger, you never forget what it feels like and what it does to your psyche.” – Vada from California

“The reason I gave is because as a child our family was poor. As a result there were times when there was no food in our cold house. We were ashamed of our poverty and felt inferior. Poverty is a traumatizing ordeal and can affect your entire life.” – Bill from New Hampshire

Our donors come from a variety of backgrounds with different motivations for giving but are united by the common belief that no person should go hungry. They prove that the generosity of Americans can make a positive difference in the world.

Why do they choose World Food Program USA? Because we are responsible and effective with their gifts. We maximize donations by putting 93 cents of every dollar towards the work of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations. The U.N. World Food Programme has a long history of fighting hunger. It provides 15 billion meals to more than 150 million people in over 120 countries and territories around the world. When you give to World Food Program USA, you help the U.N. World Food Programme  help people in their greatest time of need in places like Gaza, Ukraine and Afghanistan.

“When we see people suffering, we think of WFP because we know you will be there.” – Ali and Zeba from California.

Our donors join us in the belief that we can create a world without hunger. We hope you’ll join us too.