Pay it forward: Americans are looking for ways to give back to first responders

The average American does 4.45 charitable acts every week — or 231 charitable acts per year, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 Americans, which explored their thoughts on charity, first responders and community found that at all times — but even more so now — Americans are ready for the task of giving back and helping others.

According to the results, over half of Americans (55%) have “paid it forward” to a complete stranger.

The survey from Cooper Tires, conducted by OnePoll, found Americans are much more altruistic than they may get credit for.

Not only that, but 53% of Americans said if someone in front of them in line at the drive-thru paid for their meal, they would happily pay for the person’s meal behind them.

And a surprising 45% of Americans would pay for that meal even if it was double the price of the meal they originally ordered.

Americans would be even more likely to pay for someone’s meal if the recipient of their kindness was a first responder — results found three in four Americans (76%) say they gladly would pay for a first responder’s meal if they saw them at a restaurant.

The study shined a light on our first responders, and it turns out Americans feel we could be doing a lot more to show our appreciation for them.

“With Public Service Recognition Week kicking off on May 3, now is the perfect time to recognize and honor our first responders,” said Jessica Egerton, Director of Brand Development at Cooper Tires. “Cooper Tires and the Gary Sinise Foundation are teaming up for the second consecutive year to give back to first responders by donating new tires to fire stations and EMT departments in need across the country.”

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans surveyed (89%) felt first responders are under appreciated in society, and 73% are in agreement that they wish their community was doing much more to assist first responders in some way.

Though only half of respondents said they personally know a first responder, 77% said they’d go out of their way to thank a first responder if they saw one in public.

“First responders steadfastly serve their communities, and they can be counted on no matter the conditions,” said Egerton. “Cooper Tires and the Gary Sinise Foundation want to make sure that these heroes have reliable equipment that they can count on to properly serve their communities and stay safe while doing so.”

The survey also delved into the various charitable acts respondents are doing, beyond “paying it forward.”

The results show that the average respondent will volunteer four separate times and donate $178 to charity every year.

It’s not just good for others — three in four respondents (75%) say they feel “a lot better” after donating to, or volunteering for, a cause.

According to the results, over three-quarters of Americans (78%) always make an effort to give back to their local communities, and many find it so important that just under three-quarters (74%) instill these same values in their children.

While donating to charities with a national impact is popular, being able to see the impact their efforts made first-hand would have 83% of Americans more likely to donate to a local charity, and 79% more likely to volunteer in their community.

Donating to a food drive (46%) was found to be the most popular way Americans “give back,” while donating to local charities (44%), supporting local farmers (38%), donating blood (38%) and participating in a fundraiser walk or race (30%) all scored high marks.

The results point to a trend, too: 55% of those polled say they are more charitable now than they were just six months ago.

1. Donated to food drives 46%
2. Donated to a local charity 44%
3. Supported local farmers 38%
4. Donated blood 38%
5. Participated in a local fundraiser walk or race 30%
6. Taken part in a community clean up 28%
7. Volunteered at a local senior center 25%
8. Joined a community garden 24%
9. Served meals at the food bank 21%
10. Volunteered as a firefighter 20%

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<
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