Gratefulness and giving are good for you

New study confirms that there is a link between gratitude and generosity.

Most Believe Stores Should be Closed on Thanksgiving, But Shop Anyway

West Conshohocken, PA/November 23, 2015 – A new study has revealed that more than two-thirds of Americans participate in Thanksgiving consumerism, despite the fact that a majority of consumers (72%) believe stores should be closed for the holiday. What will it take to get consumers to practice what they preach and bring back the “thanks” and “giving” this holiday season?

The John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization, released the results of The Templeton Giving Survey, a look at how the consumer mindset has taken over the concept of Thanksgiving. The survey revealed that despite the growing popularity of Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving to kick off the holiday season, just 18% are familiar with Giving Tuesday while almost all (93%) are familiar with Black Friday.

“Holiday consumer spending is climbing each year,” said Henry Timms, founder of Giving Tuesday and executive director of 92nd Street Y, “but Giving Tuesday allows consumers to focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.”

In addition to charitable habits, the survey asked respondents about the habit of gratitude. Those who said they think about what they are grateful for daily (vs. less than daily) on average donate more money ($468 vs. $319). One key finding was that people who think about gratitude daily are more likely to see themselves as grateful and generous, as well as happy and content. Sadly, among those celebrating Thanksgiving, only 36% go around the Thanksgiving table saying what they are thankful for, but half watch or play football and watch parades on TV.

“Gratitude can truly transform every aspect of life,” said Janice Kaplan, author of New York Times bestseller The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life. “The holiday season is the perfect time to put thankfulness into practice for the whole family.”

This is the second year of the study, which also reveals interesting data like which holidays politically affiliated people favor – Democrats are more likely to prefer Thanksgiving than Republicans, while Republicans are more likely to prefer Christmas than Democrats. Men believe they give more than women (44% of males vs. 37% of females say that they give 5% or more of their annual household income to those in need). But with 2/3 of Americans saying they would give more if taxes were reduced, many have the desire to give more of their time and money.

“Like many Americans I think it is important to refocus on gratitude and generosity during the holidays,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation. “When people approach the season with an attitude of gratitude, and a spirit of generosity, blessings unfold for everyone.”

Findings from The Templeton Giving Survey

Thanksgiving traditions can be a barometer for gratitude, generosity and giving

  • Only 36% of those celebrating Thanksgiving go around the Thanksgiving table saying what they are thankful for, but half watch or play football and watch parades on TV
  • Generous people (people who donate time or money) have more traditions around Thanksgiving than those who do not (3.5 vs. 2.5), including spending time with family who live far away or are not seen often (54% vs. 45%)

Generosity and gratitude are good for you and society

  • Those who usually express gratitude daily (vs. those who do not) on average donate more money ($468 vs. $319)
  • Generous people (people who donate time or money) are more satisfied and happy with their life than those who do not (49% vs. 33%)

Giving Tuesday is growing in popularity, but hasn’t caught up to Black Friday

  • 80% of millennials believe there should be a holiday focused on giving back to those in need
  • 93% of people are familiar with Black Friday, but only 18% are familiar with Giving Tuesday

Battle of the sexes

  • When asked which gender was more likely to give back in time or money, 91% of females and 72% of males say women are more generous
  • But 44% of males say they give 5% or more of their annual household income to those in need vs. 37% of females
  • Females are more likely to think about what they are grateful for daily than are males (61% vs. 48%)

Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and giving

  • 41% of those who donate any money, give 5% or more of their annual household income to charity annually
  • 55% of Millennials describe themselves as more grateful than the average person vs. 48% of Gen X and 45% of Baby Boomers

The politics of Thanksgiving

  • People who identify as Democrats are more likely to choose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday than Republicans. Conversely, people who identify as Republicans are more likely to choose Christmas as their favorite holiday than Democrats.
  • Almost two-thirds of people say they would give more money to charity if their taxes were lower (including 75% of millennials)

Religion and giving:

  • People who participate in religious practices donate significantly more money ($598 vs. $166) and time (21 hours vs. 7 hours) than those who do not

Most charitable celebrity

  • Oprah still reigns: Of celebrities tested, 47% say Oprah Winfrey is the most generous/giving celebrity
View Thanks Leads To Giving Infographic
Thanks Leads To Giving Infographic

About The John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation is a $3 billion non-profit private foundation endowed by pioneer investor Sir John Templeton. The Foundation funds research, public engagement projects, and programs to advance Sir John’s philanthropic vision. Our funding is allocated across eight different program areas that include: the discovery of new spiritual information through science, character virtue development, individual freedom and free markets, genetics, cognitive genius, and the Templeton Prize.

The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies our support for infinite discovery through rigorous scholarship and civil, informed, dialogue and engagement. We help open new doors of knowledge for everyone, from the tenured professor to the primary school student, to explore, question, and benefit.

About The Survey

The Templeton Giving Survey is an online survey of 2,014 Americans ages 18+ commissioned by John Templeton Foundation and produced by a global insights and analytics firm Edelman Berland. The margin of error is ± 2.18%. Data was collected between November 7-10, 2015 by Edelman Berland.