Americans are known around the world as givers. It started on a large scale after World War II with the Marshall Plan in Europe and the rebuilding of Japan. Billions of dollars, an unprecedented sum at the time, went to help rebuild other countries including our defeated enemies even when our own needs at home were great. When a disaster happens Americans are usually quick to respond with humanitarian aid.
It is estimated that American foreign aid and charitable giving by individual Americans and their charitable institutions is now well over $100 billion a year. The theme of this month's poll is charitable giving. Jesus watched as the wealthy gave generously at the temple, but was more moved by the poor widow who gave two small coins. He said, "She has given far more than the others because she has given everything that she has." Which is more valuable to you, your time or your money? Would you feel better giving away a fortune or receiving one? We look forward to hearing your answers and opinions. And now the results of this month's poll...
Fifty-seven percent of Americans said it would feel better to give away a fortune and 39 percent said they would feel better receiving a fortune. The majority agrees with the famous teaching, "it is more blessed to give than to receive." On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to hear from your long lost Aunt Edna's lawyer one day?
What is more valuable than our time on Earth? A whopping 85 percent said the currency of time is more valuable than the currency in their wallet (11 percent). People who like to give know that participating and volunteering their time is a very rewarding experience.
If they had enough money to donate millions to a cause that was important to them, 85 percent of Americans said they would give it anonymously. Only 12 percent said they would want to be recognized for it. It is a noble aspiration, but judging from the preponderance of school buildings and hospital wings with names on them, when the money gets real, so does the urge to be recognized.
Nearly a third of Americans think that donating to medical research is the best bang for the buck for a chance to make a real difference. Next in order were disaster relief 29 percent, religious organizations 21 percent, a homeless person 15 percent, and not surprisingly considering their approval ratings, political campaigns got a whopping one percent. Conversely, those with the least chance of making a real difference were political campaigns 52 percent, followed by a homeless person 17 percent, religious organization 12 percent, medical research eight percent and disaster relief seven percent.
The celebrated philanthropist that Americans would most want to embrace their favorite cause is Oprah with 28 percent. Close behind were Bill and Melinda Gates 25 percent followed by Warren Buffet 13 percent, Angelina Jolie nine percent, Prince William seven percent, Mark Zuckerberg two percent and 15 percent did not know.
Gates and Buffet are going to combine the vast majority of their massive fortunes and give it away to education and other urgent world needs. They have also persuaded many more of the super-rich to join the party in signing the "Giving Pledge" which may take philanthropy to another level in the coming years. This may be the new face of philanthropy which sidesteps well-intended but cumbersome bureaucracies in favor of smart and competent private sector know-how.
Two out of three Americans think that Lance Armstrong's legacy of charitable work will be overshadowed 25 years from now by the disgrace of his doping scandal. Twenty-eight percent think his charity work will prevail over time. Americans are famous for giving second chances, but this one may be a tall order.
Of the A-list of stars that appeared in the Top 20 Most Charitable Celebrity List, 17 percent picked Ben Affleck as the No. 1 giver followed by Beyonce 14 percent, Taylor Swift 11 percent, Drew Brees 11 percent, LeBron James 10 percent, Justin Bieber four percent, and Miley Cyrus three percent. Thirty percent did not know.
Some of these stars have a decided advantage in earning potential based on their ability to tour. According to Examiner.com, Taylor Swift was the No. 1 giver on the list in 2012 and Miley Cyrus twerked her way up to second.
Americans have always had an aversion to paying taxes. It could be said that the country was founded based on our forefather's indignation over taxation without representation. However the vast majority (83 percent) do not consider paying taxes to be a form of charity and only 15 percent said they do. Americans cherish their rights and with them come responsibilities like paying taxes. But those rights also include the right to complain nonstop about how much we are taxed and how poorly many of those dollars are put to use.
Half of Americans said they do not usually give money to panhandlers when asked. Thirty-seven percent said they usually do and eight percent give only to those who perform for them. The younger respondents were more likely to give. As people get older perhaps they become more skeptical or at least have a better sense of whether their money will be going to the nearest supermarket or the nearest bar.
In an America where people would take after the names that they were given, Hope reigns supreme with 28 percent. We also have Faith (25 percent)and Joy (18 percent) and might like having a Margarita (eight percent)in Brooklyn (eight percent). But despite our giving nature, we would be less inclined to name our daughter Charity (four percent).
This poll was conducted by telephone from August 14-18, 2013 among 1,009 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3 percentage points. The error for other subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. Read more about this poll.