Date of this Version
Nebraskans have a history of being charitable. This is important for the future of rural communities since many of them rely on local donations for their civic improvement projects and expansion of capital for new business development. Given that, do rural Nebraskans contribute annually to charitable causes? How much of their contributions go to their local community?
This report details 3,199 responses to the 2001 Nebraska Rural Poll, the sixth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions regarding their charitable giving. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, e.g., comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:
• Most rural Nebraskans (80%) contribute money annually to charitable causes. Persons most likely to contribute annually to charitable causes include: persons living in the Southeast region of the state, individuals with the highest household incomes, persons age 65 and older, males, married and widowed respondents, persons with the highest educational levels, and individuals with professional occupations.
• One-half of the persons who contribute annually to charitable causes give at least $500. Thirteen percent contribute $2,500 or more. Groups that tend to contribute more money to charitable causes include: persons with higher household incomes, individuals between the ages of 50 and 64, males, married respondents, persons with higher educational levels, and individuals with professional occupations.
• The majority of rural Nebraskans who have experienced many economic hardships during the past year continue to contribute annually to charitable causes. The persons experiencing the most economic hardships are less likely than the persons experiencing fewer hardships to contribute to charitable causes; however, two-thirds of the persons experiencing six or more hardships contribute to charitable causes.
• Over 60 percent of the persons who contribute annually to charitable causes say that at least 50% of their total giving goes to support organizations, causes or charity in their local community. Twenty-two percent state that 50% - 75% of their giving goes to their local community, and 40 percent say that more than 75% of their gifts goes to their community.
• Certain groups are more likely than others to state that the majority of their giving goes to their local community. Persons with higher household incomes, younger respondents, married persons, and individuals with higher educational levels are the groups most likely to say that more than 75% of their giving goes to their local community.
• When asked which local organizations, causes or charity they have donated money to in the last three years, more than one-half of the contributors have donated money to a local church or religious group (89%), a local youth group (64%), and a local food bank (51%). Other groups people have donated money to include: local schools (K-12) (50%), local community/civic improvement organization or project (49%), local veterans group (30%), local health care institution (28%), and a local service or fraternal organization (23%).
• Forty-one percent of rural Nebraskans believe their community would benefit from a perpetual community endowment fund. Forty-one percent are not sure their community would benefit, 10 percent think their community would not benefit from a perpetual endowment fund, and 8 percent say their community already has one.
• Groups most likely to believe their community would benefit from a perpetual community endowment fund include: persons with higher household incomes, individuals under the age of 50, males, the divorced or separated respondents, persons with higher educational levels, and individuals with professional occupations.
• The most common reason given for not contributing to charitable causes is “I don’t have the money.” Eighty-one percent of the persons who do not contribute annually to charitable causes say this is a reason why they do not. Other reasons include: I would rather donate my time than my money (15%), there have not been causes that deserve my support (8%), no one has asked me to donate (4%), and I don’t really know how to go about it (2%).
• Some of the reasons for not contributing annually to charitable causes differ by income, age, and gender. Respondents with higher household incomes are more likely than the persons with lower incomes to say there have not been causes that deserve their support and they would rather donate their time than their money. The persons with lower incomes are more likely than the persons with higher incomes to say they don’t have the money to contribute. Younger respondents are more likely than older respondents to say they don’t really know how to go about contributing. Males are more likely than females to say there have not been causes that deserve their support.