School Safety Tops Americans’ Social Causes

More than half of adults expect companies to donate to charitable concerns
Sign saying gun free school zone

For many consumers, an ideal budget includes not just money for their own needs and wants, but also funds to donate to causes they care about. A new study suggests organizations working to make schools safer may be the recipient of some of those dollars, as school safety tops the list of social concerns.

Global communications consultancy Ketchum surveyed 1,004 adults to find out which charitable and social causes they felt most strongly about. School safety was the No. 1 concern in 2019, scoring high across all generations. In fact, 81% of baby boomers, 78% of Gen Xers and 78% of millennials said it was personally important for them to support school safety causes.

This comes in a year where there have been more than 60 incidents of gunfire reported at the nation’s schools, according to the research and advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety.

While keeping students safe may be top of mind, it’s not the only cause consumers are focused on. For example, 69% of respondents said mental health was an important issue to support, while 54% said working to combat the effects of climate change was a key cause to focus on.

Not only did respondents say it was crucial that they step up to the plate and lend their support to worthy causes, but they also expected their employers to do the same. More than half of respondents — 54% — expected companies to donate money and other resources to charitable causes.

However, some of those polled also felt that companies have even more of a responsibility, with 35% saying they expect employers to help educate the public about important issues, and 33% saying they wanted them to create products and services that can address social and environmental concerns. Likewise, a quarter of respondents thought companies should do more to mobilize others by implementing opportunities for employees to volunteer for particular causes.

However, respondents didn’t feel as strongly about individuals within a company taking a stand about a certain cause or issue. In fact, only 12% said they believed it was important for company leaders to take public positions on social issues.

Millennials were the generation most likely to rank social causes highly as issues of concern. For instance, 74% of millennial respondents said it was important to support racial equality, compared to 64% of Gen Xers and boomers.

Similarly, 64% of millennials ranked gender equality and the #MeToo movement as important to support, compared to 53% of Gen Xers and 56% of boomers. And on the issue of LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) equality, 51% of millennials thought it to be important to show support, compared to 39% of Gen Xers and 36% of boomers.

If supporting social and philanthropic causes is important you, create a budget that prioritizes charitable giving. While sharing your resources with those in need can be very worthwhile, make sure you truly can afford to do so and aren’t, for example, sacrificing your own retirement or overall financial security.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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