Americans would give more to charity, but they already spent it

When it comes to charitable giving, Americans’ hearts are in the right place – but they can’t give any more, because they already spent it.

A new survey of 1100 people from Lending Tree says that 71% of respondents say that debt holds them back from donating more to charity. It’s not that they aren’t generous – two-thirds have donated to charity in the last year (a third of that percentage have donated more than once). But if it wasn’t for that tricky piece of plastic that lets them spend beyond their means, they swear they’d donate more.

A little over half, 56%, said they simply didn’t make enough money to donate to charity. Fair enough!

Top causes

When Americans do donate, the hot causes are animals (34%), health (31%), and human services (26%). Younger people are more likely to donate to animals and the environment, as well as crowdfunding campaigns, while older generations tend to give their money to religious causes.

And the majority are donating from the heart: 67% of Americans say that they give money to those in need because they have a desire to help. Only 10% said they did it for the tax deductions.

Any amount will do

Don’t feel pressure to donate big – most people aren’t. Under $500 is the most common amount – most respondents (73%) donated within that range.

Ten percent gave between $500 and $999, and another 10% gave $1,000 to $4,999. Just a sliver (7%) donated more than $5,000.

Even if you have debt, or if your budget comes up short, consider donating a little bit of money to your favorite charity. Why? According to Harvard researchers, spending your money on other people (and not yourself) can actually make you happier. Consider it a favor two ways: to other people, and to yourself.