Skip to main content

Just in time for ‘Giving Tuesday’ a new survey revealed the average American has carried out five good deeds per month—and they want to perform more.

Some of the most common good deeds performed involved helping someone with directions (66%), holding the door open for a stranger (65%), and paying for a stranger’s meal (53%).

Other good deeds people have carried out within the past year include: helping someone carry their groceries home (55%), picking up litter or garbage (53%) and giving money to a panhandler (47%).

The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vitamin Angels, examined American’s charitable habits for Giving Tuesday—a national day devoted to giving back.

People are more willing to give back after being on the receiving end of someone else’s good deed—approximately 20% more likely, in fact.

Image placeholder title

After being on the receiving end of someone paying it forward, 88% of respondents said they then returned the favor to a stranger.


  1. Helped someone with directions — 66%
  2. Held the door open for a stranger — 65%
  3. Let someone with fewer items go in front of me in line at a store — 60%
  4. Helped someone cross the street — 60%
  5. Completed a chore/errand for a family member or friend — 56%
  6. Gave a dollar or so to charity when checking out while shopping — 56%
  7. Donated clothes to a thrift store — 55%
  8. Helped someone carry their groceries home — 55%
  9. Returned a lost item that I found — 55%
  10. Paid for a stranger’s meal — 53%

Image placeholder title

Respondents were also asked to share the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for them.

One respondent even shared a story of a trucker who helped her family change a flat tire on a cold winter night, and invited her and her son to sit in his cab to keep warm.


  • “A stranger once gave me a change of clothes and some tea and let me use their shower after I was caught outside in a severe storm in Florida on a business trip.”
  • “Last winter, a neighbor’s boyfriend helped me shovel my driveway (I am an older person and should not be doing some of the things I do).”
  • “I had nowhere to go and no money and a stranger gave me a ride to the closest hotel, paid for my stay, bought me a hot meal, took me back to my room and gave me a hundred dollars.”
  • “An employee at a Walmart store came up to my son who was throwing a huge tantrum and offered him a snack to calm him down.”
  • “I was driving back from the ER in the middle of the night with my toddler when I got a flat tire. I pulled over to the side, but it was at a very quiet and dark part of the interstate. A big rig truck pulled over, told me to sit in his cab to keep warm and he would change my tire.”

People aren’t only generous with their time, either; they’re also generous with their wallets.

Of those surveyed who currently donate to a charity, their monthly monetary donations are an average of $41.39.

Despite their charitable habits, 7 in 10 respondents said they feel guilty if they do not donate to charity during the holiday season. Furthermore, 83% agreed that they wish they could give more throughout the year, with 64% citing that their own financials limit them.

When it comes to the best way to make an impact, four in five respondents agreed that monetary donations are the best way to ensure the charity carries out their work.

Image placeholder title

“Whether your donation to charity is big or small, you are making a significant impact in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in your own community and globally,” said Howard Schiffer, President and Founder of Vitamin Angels, a global non-profit working to end malnutrition. “Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity for donors to maximize the impact of their funds because many organizations have partners who are matching donations during the holiday season.”

This content is brought to you by Sustainable Human, a non-profit that tells the stories that help humanity evolve. Please consider making a monthly donation on Patreon to help us create more stories that will inspire, educate, and heal our world.