ABC Only Network to Share Good News on Giving

“Americans are a stunningly generous people,” said Claire Gaudiani on the June 25 broadcast of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. 

Gaudiani, the author of The Greater Good, observed that “More Americans make a donation every year than vote, by a long shot; than watch the Super Bowl, and even than eat a fast food meal.”

Gaudiani was commenting on a report released by IndianaUniversity that day that showed Americans gave $295 billion to charity in 2006.  That is an increase over previous years, despite the lack of “huge tragedies” like Katrina or the tsunami in Asia, as anchor Charles Gibson observed.

Gibson closed the story on 2006's record charitable giving, “So bottom line: the amount of giving in America is far greater than in any other nation of the world.” 

ABC's World News was the only evening network news broadcast to report the story.

According to an annual report by the Giving USA Foundation at IndianaUniversity's Center on Philanthropy, the $295 billion represents a 3.2 percent increase over 2005, when adjusted for inflation and disaster-relief giving was excluded.  As noted in the June 25 article on the report's findings in USA Today, “giving historically tracks the health of the overall economy.”

Gibson observed as much when he said that despite gas prices and food prices being up, giving is up as well.  He also noted that the giving cited in the report reflected only financial giving, not volunteering.  Gibson featured Georgetown University Professor of Philanthropy James Allen Smith, who noted that, “If we put a dollar value on volunteering by Americans, and we volunteer at extraordinary rates, the volunteer time is worth at least as much as the dollars that Americans give.”

Gibson gave credit to those who are really responsible for the charitable spirit of America.  While mentioning “mega-gifts” like the $1.9 billion donation Warren Buffet made to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the “extraordinary generosity” of the Gates's themselves, Gibson said, “$223 billion, 75 percent of the total came from individuals, and 65 percent of the households in America with incomes less than $100,000 gave to charity.”

The Culture and Media Institute's National Cultural Values Survey found that only 16 percent of people surveyed did not give to charity in the previous year.  And only 4 percent felt no obligation to help the less fortunate or to give back to their communities. 


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.