Americans have been famously categorized as not poor but "temporarily embarrassed millionaires." As philanthropists, however, our spending habits have decreased. Millennials donated nearly $600 on average between 2013 and 2018, but across all age groups, charitable donations have declined during that same period. We do like to give — but we're particular about the circumstances.
In one new study, researchers from the U.K.'s University of Exeter have found that we're actually at our most generous right before we luck out ourselves. Participants were 25 percent more likely to give more to charities being told they'd received a cash windfall. The researchers also found that contributors were 23 percent more likely to commit to a donation if asked before an unexpected financial bonus.
In short, we give more when we've got less, to a certain extent. It's a behavior that's often paired with agreeableness; we find ways to give to charity even when we don't have any money ourselves, and we donate even when tax structures make it more expensive. When it comes to a windfall, however, we recognize our need to look after ourselves and our futures. More than 2,500 Americans said in a study last year that they'd use a surprise infusion of $500 to treat themselves to a vacation, invest in home repairs, pay for professional development, and increase a savings fund.
If charity is important and feasible for you, budget for it in the most appropriate way you discern. You may not give out the next bonus you get, but you're probably putting it to good use no matter what.