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The average American carries out five good deeds a month, according to a new survey.
Whether it be helping someone with directions (66 percent) or holding the door open for a stranger (65 percent), it really is true that the smallest thing can make a big difference to someone.
Over half (53 percent) of those surveyed have even gone so far as to pay for a stranger's meal.
Other good deeds people have carried out within the past year include: helping someone carry their groceries home (55 percent), picking up litter or garbage (53 percent) and giving change to a panhandler (47 percent).
The study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vitamin Angels, examined American’s charitable habits ahead of Giving Tuesday – a national day devoted to giving back.
People are more willing to give back after being on the receiving end of someone else’s good deed – approximately 20 percent more likely in fact.
After being on the receiving end of someone paying it forward, 88 percent of respondents said they then returned the favor to a stranger.
Respondents were also asked to share the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for them. Answers included simple acts of kindness such as asking them how they were doing to returning lost wallets.
One respondent even shared a story of a big rig trucker helping them change their flat tire on a cold winter night, allowing the respondent and their son to sit in the cab to keep warm.
People aren’t just generous with their time, but also their wallets.
Of those surveyed that currently donate to a charity, their monthly monetary donations are an average of $41.39.
Despite their charitable habits, seven in 10 respondents said they feel guilty if they do not donate to charity during the holiday season.
When it comes to researching what charities to contribute to, men were 14 percent more likely to turn to social media instead of women (at 81 percent and 67 percent, respectively).
Most Americans, 76 percent, go directly to the charity’s website to do their research before pulling out their wallets.
When it comes to the best way to make an impact, four in five respondents agreed that monetary donations are the best way to ensure the charity carries out their work.
“Whether your donation to charity is big or small, you are making a significant impact in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in your own community and globally,” said Howard Schiffer, President & Founder of Vitamin Angels, a global non-profit working to end malnutrition. “Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity for donors to maximize the impact of their funds because many organizations have partners who are matching donations during the holiday season.”
The top charities Americans prefer donating too include those that help children (76 percent) and those that help women (61 percent).
A whopping 87 percent of Americans also said they prefer to donate to charities that not only make a difference in their local community, but also around the world.
“We are reaching millions of undernourished women and children in all 50 U.S. states and globally in over 70 countries,” said Schiffer. “If you only have $5 to give, at Vitamin Angels, $5 matched would provide two at-risk pregnant women with prenatal multivitamins or forty young children with vitamin A –an essential nutrient undernourished children in developing countries need to combat preventable blindness, illnesses and even death. That’s a huge, life-changing impact for a small investment.”
TOP 10 GOOD DEEDS
1. Helped someone with directions 66%
2. Held the door open for a stranger 65%
3. Let someone with fewer items go in front of me in line at a store 60%
4. Helped someone cross the street 60%
5. Completed a chore/errand for a family member or friend 56%
6. Gave a dollar or so to charity when checking out while shopping 56%
7. Donated clothes to a thrift store 55%
8. Helped someone carry their groceries home 55%
9. Returned a lost item that I found 55%
10. Paid for a stranger’s meal 53%
TOP CHARITIES PEOPLE PREFER DONATING TO
1. Charities that help children 76%
2. Charities that help women 61%
3. Charities that help the environment 56%
4. Charities that help animals 38%
THE NICEST THINGS STRANGERS HAVE DONE FOR PEOPLE (answers have been edited for length and/or clarity)
• A stranger once gave me a change of clothes and some tea and let me use their shower after I was caught outside in a severe storm in Florida on a business trip.
• I am an older person and should not be doing some of the things I do. Last winter, a neighbor's boyfriend helped me shovel my driveway.
• I had nowhere to go and no money and a stranger gave me a ride to the closest hotel, paid for my stay and bought me a hot meal, took me back to my room and left me with about a hundred dollars.
• My car got hit by a drunk driver and took off. A man who witnessed it, stayed with me until the police arrived to give his account.
• An employee at a Walmart store came up to my son who was throwing a huge tantrum and offered him a snack to calm him down.
• I was driving back from the ER in the middle of the night with my toddler when I got a flat tire. I pulled over to the side, but it was at a very quiet and dark part of the interstate. A big rig truck pulled over, told me to sit in his cab to keep warm and he would change my tire.