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Charity strongest among older Jamaicans, poll shows

Published:Monday | August 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
In this file photo, Lena Ottar talks with one of the boys of Jamaica Christian Boys’ Home in Kingston. Sagicor had coordinated repairs to the facility and representatives participated in activities with the boys ranging from ages eight to 18.

Executive director at Food For The Poor, David Mair, says he agrees with a recent Bill Johnson poll that cites older, churchgoing Jamaicans as having the tendency of giving to charity, more so than those not affiliated to any religious group.

The poll was conducted between June 3 and 4, 2017 and had a sample size of 1,000 respondents. It sought to gauge individual charitable giving in Jamaica in the last 12 months.

It shows that 66 per cent of the respondents, aged 45 to 65 and older, have given cash or provisions to a charitable organisation over the period. In contrast, 47 per cent of people aged 18 to 44 say they have donated in cash or kind.




"It is not surprising that there is this stark contrast. Young people are now into acquiring their wealth for themselves and their family, while older folks, who tend to be serious churchgoers, are willing to, and often, give back in larger numbers," said Mair.

By the same token, persons in the highest socio-economic group and those who attend church once per month were more likely than others to help friends in need.

Eighty-three per cent of persons in the highest socio-economic group, age 65 and older, have given help to a friend over the period, the poll found, while almost three-quarters, or 73 per cent, say they have assisted a total stranger in the past 12 months by helping to pay for food or other expenses.

The majority of those polled, 52 per cent, say they have made donations of money or provisions like groceries to a local or national organisation over the last 12 months or so.

'Volunteerism is still alive in Jamaica'

A recent Bill Johnson poll seeking to examine the extent to which Jamaicans give has found that those who say they have made contributions correlate directly with age and socio-economic group, and that those who go to church regularly donate more often than those who are infrequent church attendees.

"This could be true because of their upbringing. Many older people are willing to give back based on their good Christian values and strong upbringing, as against the young people, who will always cite building wealth capacity as their main goal," executive director at Food For The Poor, David Muir, told The Gleaner.

Sixty-two per cent of persons polled say they have attended church at least once a week, while 51 per cent admitted to going to church at least two times a month, but a bigger number of respondents, 65 per cent, say they attend church only once per month.

Twenty-one per cent of respondents say they were more likely to donate to directly help children, with a further 17 per cent saying they have no worries giving to an organisation that assist the poor.

Only 7.3 per cent saying they would give money to help pay school fees, educational programmes, help the elderly and to assists children's homes.

"Volunteerism is still alive in Jamaica, given what this poll has shown. And while at one point it appeared to have fallen off, it is instructive that what we are seeing, based on these findings, is that people are once again beginning to give back," Mair said.