Who Gives? Characteristics Of People Who Donate Time And Money To Animal Groups
Gallup Poll recently published findings, which show that one’s happiness is related to her or his tendency to give back to the community. The higher people scored on a set of questions that measured overall personal wellbeing, the more likely they were to volunteer time, donate money, or help a stranger. Though it is not clear which came first, wellbeing or lending a helping hand, the tendency to help out is tied to other individual qualities as well. This finding made me wonder what factors are tied to an individual’s decision to donate money or volunteer time to animal protection issues and groups.
In 2008, Faunalytics asked two questions on the Animal Tracker survey that can help to answer this question. Over 1,500 individuals across the U.S. answered the following questions, “In the past year have you personally donated to an animal group?” and “In the past year have you personally volunteered for an animal group?” Over a quarter (26%) of respondents indicated that they donated money, while only 5% mentioned that they donated time. What factors set this minority apart from the general population? As expected, these respondents were ideologically more committed to animal protection goals. Ninety percent of those who donated money and 83% of those who donated time also responded that they had a “favorable” opinion of the animal protection movement.
There were personal and demographic characteristics tied to donating and volunteerism as well. In all of the following analyses I controlled for income, since that is likely the largest factor in terms of having money to donate. I examined the relationship that gender, age, household size, education, living with a companion animal, and region of the country has with a respondent’s likelihood to donate money or volunteer time to animal groups.
All examined characteristics affect the likelihood of donating money to an animal group. Based on the Animal Tracker survey, when income is controlled, older people, women, those living with companion animals, and those living in smaller households are more likely than their counterparts to donate to an animal group. Compared to those with a college degree, people who did not finish high school are less likely to donate money, but there is no difference between those who have a high school diploma and those with a bachelor’s degree. Region of the country also mattered. Compared to those living in the Midwest, respondents in the Northeastern and Western parts of the U.S. were more likely to donate money to animal groups.
Fewer factors affected whether a respondent volunteered with an animal group. Only household size, living with companion animals, and gender affected the likelihood someone would volunteer. Respondents in larger households were less likely to volunteer. Women were much more likely than men and those with companion animals in the house were almost 150% more likely than those in pet-less households to volunteer with an animal group. In the end, though, most people just simply did not volunteer. As previously mentioned, only 5% of respondents had volunteered with an animal group in the past year. Given that the Gallup Poll suggests that no fewer than around 17% of their respondents volunteered time, animal groups are clearly not the most popular choice for volunteers.
The Gallup poll survey found that the people who were measured to have the highest levels of wellbeing were more likely to volunteer time, but the direction of the relationship is unknown—does scoring high on the wellbeing scale make one more likely to volunteer or does volunteering improve one’s well being?
If you are not volunteering with a group, maybe you should be on the safe side and donate some time; it might just increase your overall wellbeing! And, while you’re at it, choose an animal group to volunteer at, because it appears that they are probably short on volunteers.