How Good are we at Giving?

The season of giving is here, so it is a fitting time to analyze the way Americans donate.

One of the biggest viral events of 2014 was the Ice Bucket Challenge, which drastically increased donations to the ALS Association. While donations to any cause is a wonderful thing, it is debatable whether ALS was the best cause to receive this influx of money. According to the ALS Association, only 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with ALS per year. This statistic is completely trumped by the estimated 224,210 Americans who were diagnosed with lung cancer this year.

This discrepancy interested me, so I took information from 9 of the biggest health-related charities and compared not just donations, but donations relative to the number of Americans their disease affects.

Sources: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/ , http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm , http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.results&cgid=5&cuid=13&cfc=1&size=3&scopeid=2
Sources: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/ , http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm , http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.results&cgid=5&cuid=13&cfc=1&size=3&scopeid=2

It is pretty clear that we could be doing better. I think that the disconnect you see is due to marketing campaigns such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, MLB using pink bats on mother’s day, and Movember. Other causes could be the reputation a disease has. Lung and Pancreatic cancers are caused mainly by smoking, so people may feel less sympathy for people affected.

If you are planning on donating to charity this holiday season, it is really easy to just pick a big name charity and be done with it. However, I encourage you to spend a few minutes researching to find out what causes are in the most dire need of help. If everyone donated this way, the charts above might be a little more balanced.

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