Donations by Americans to increase

More Americans say they'll maintain or increase their charitable donation levels from last year. (John Rottet / The News and Observer / AP Photo)

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The do-gooding spirit is thriving in the U.S., with 81% of Americans planning to maintain or boost their donations this year, according to a new report.

That’s nine percentage points higher than 2011 and 18 points above 2010, according to Fidelity Charitable, which offers programs to boost altruism. The average American plans to give $2,400, up from $2,100 last year.

Three-quarters of the 571 respondents said they don’t donate in order to benefit from tax deductions. Seven in 10 are influenced by their experiences with illness or death, while two-thirds say it’s a holiday tradition to give.

Less than half do it to set a good example or because of personal financial changes such as a new job, a raise or lower household expenses, according to the report.

Most Americans also stressed the importance of teaching charitable giving to children. Many urge their families to volunteer time or offer gifts from allowances.

Nationally, charitable gifts from individuals totaled $218 billion, up nearly 4% from 2010, according to Giving USA. Such donations make up 73% of all giving.

Nearly 100 billionaire members of the Giving Pledge, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have promised to eventually give away 50% of their wealth to charity.

These days, though, just browsing the Internet can qualify as a good deed, with apps such as Tab for a Cause that automatically donate small sums to charity each time a new tab is opened.

California tops all U.S. states in total charitable contributions, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, with nearly $1 of every $8 coming out of the state. On an individual basis, however, Californians are ranked 25th, with a typical household handing out 4.4% of discretionary income.

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App lets you donate to charity by just opening a Web browser tab