A big shift in the way Americans donate to charitable causes is under way as more people put away their checkbooks and instead log online or send texts to help contribute, according to a new study.
A recent report by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that the trend is especially popular among Americans under the age of 40, who are now just as likely to give donations to disaster relief through digital means as they are through traditional means such as the phone or the postal system.
The report indicated that in the first days after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami hit the country, 21 percent of Americans said they had made a donation to help those affected by the disaster, and another 24 percent said they plan to make a donation. Of those that made donations, about 36 percent have done so digitally through text messages or email.
Among those younger than 40, according to the survey, about as many have donated digitally as through more traditional methods. When compared with donations after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2005, the new figures represent a striking jump in the proportion of under-40 Americans giving digitally.
Six years ago, the balance tilted much more heavily toward traditional giving : 25 percent of the public said they had given by tradition means, while 4 percent said they had given digitally after the Indian Ocean tsunami, Pew noted.
Five percent of Americans ages 18 to 39 donated to relief efforts then, and 20 percent of that cohort donated via traditional means.
E-giving is becoming especially popular among college graduates. After the Indian Ocean tsunami, 33 percent of college graduates said they had donated traditionally, while 10 percent donated digitally. Nowadays, giving to Japan among college graduates is almost evenly split between digital donations (12 percent) and traditional donations (14 percent).
Although older Americans are also more likely now than in the past to give to disaster relief efforts via electronic means, they still prefer traditional methods of giving, the report said.
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