The 20/20 show last night, Cheap in America, started off with discussing what city is stingier…San Francisco, California or Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This unscientific study involved placing a Salvation Army bellringer out for two days and they tallied how much money was donated. In San Francisco they were in front of Macy’s. In Sioux Falls they were in front of Walmart.
What they discovered was that even though Sioux Falls was not as busy of a location and in general the folks living there make half as much as those in San Francisco…they gave twice as much money.
I can only speculate, but some of my ideas involve the way that smaller communities interact. I think people are more likely to give to an organization that has affected them or someone that they know. Being a smaller community, more people probably personally know someone who has been helped by the Salvation Army. And since the community makes less as a whole, perhaps some people feel that at some point they might need help from the Salvation Army so they donate what they can now.
The next area of discussion was about who gives more…liberals or conservatives? What they found was that conservative-head households gave 30% more than liberal-head households. Conservatives were also 18% more likely to give blood. Since I’m not really a political person, I can’t really comment here. Any readers out there have ideas?
Next was an interesting segment about the rich. By far, the rich give a smaller percentage of their income and John Stossel was trying to find out why billionaires gave so little. It came down to four reasons:
1.) I can’t get at the money – Most of their money is made up of pieces of paper and it isn’t very accessible.
2.) I can’t find enough good charities – I suppose if you have billions to donate, it would be a rough task to find great charities that will use the money well.
3.) I’d like to give away more but I’m too poor – Some have a lavish lifestyle and some worry about having enough money to use until they pass away.
4.) I need to make more – This one I liked. One of the billionaires discussed how they would like to manage the money and do things with it now and perhaps give later. One statistic given was that a billionaire creates over 10,000 jobs. That, of course is a way of giving back. If the billionaires keep the money now and do not donate it, they can use it and expand their businesses and perhaps create more jobs for others. When I thought about it in depth, I’d want billionaires to keep doing what they are doing and creating more jobs. They got to be billionaires with a lot of talent and hard work. Let them keep on bulding.
Next, the show discussed the most giving group by far…people that are religious. They not only give to their church they give to other organizations as well. Being religious was an important factor on whether a person was giving or not. This does not surprise me, again with the sense of community involved.
The next segment was about rich kids. There’s a lot to be said there and that’s a post in itself LOL.
Lastly, the segment talked about how much your mood can improve by giving money or giving time. I would agree 100% with that. Last year, I gave a lot of my time to my son’s school and I was very happy. I no longer do that, and while I’m somewhat happy with my life, it’s not the same happiness that I felt last year. Researchers call that the “Helper’s High” and I would say that is an accurate description. It feels good to give.
There was one thing that I would have liked to have the show investigate….why do the middle class give such a small percent of their income in relation to lower and upper classes? Just thinking about my life, we gave much more in terms of monetary donations and volunteer time when we made less money. Now that we make more, I haven’t given much at all. I guess now that we have extra money that can go towards debt, that’s been my focus. I wonder if the debt level of the middle class has anything to do with it?
I’m glad I watched the show. I haven’t been giving as much as I would like to this year, and lately I’ve been doing a few things to make up for lost time. I’ll talk about that later.