Perceptions of Poverty: A New Report

Last September, we blogged about the record 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, a statistic of the U.S. Census Bureau. Since that time, the number has risen to 49.1 million. How does the Census Bureau measure poverty? See here.

Shedding some light on this issue, The Salvation Army released its newest report today titled, “Perceptions of Poverty: The Salvation Army’s Report to America,” a summary of our latest findings examining Americans’ attitudes toward those struggling to get by.

Surveying just over 1,000 individuals, the results revealed that while the public is sympathetic to the poverty crisis, it at times misunderstands the reasons why so many live in poverty.

These study’s findings are boggling:

The report found that 38% of Americans reported they have received assistance of some sort from charity. And while an overwhelming majority of Americans believe people living in poverty deserve a helping hand, another 27% believes that laziness is a root cause of poverty and 59% believe that “poverty is a trap some Americans can’t escape no matter how hard they try.”

In addition to these misconceptions about poverty, many Americans are unsure of what they can do to help others and demonstrate a lack of confidence that their help or any other type of aid will actually make a difference in someone’s life.

Regardless of the report’s grim findings, the majority of Americans reported donating to a charity in 2011 with the prevalence of giving increasing with income.

To read the full report, “Perceptions of Poverty: The Salvation Army’s Report to America,” please visit our website by clicking here.

For 132 years, The Salvation Army has been addressing the deeper issues of individuals in need, providing long-term solutions to beneficiaries of our programs.

So it’s not about simply satisfying hunger or giving kids a new backpack before school starts. Yes, The Salvation Army meets basic needs such as shelter and food, but we also provide job training and placement, counseling and adult rehabilitation centers that help to end the familial cycle of poverty, homelessness and substance abuse.

The Salvation Army saw an increase in giving this past Christmas when we witnessed the record-breaking $147.6 million donated from compassionate Americans. This money has enabled The Salvation Army to serve approximately 30 million Americans again throughout 2012.

We’re fighting this poverty crisis every day. If you’d like to donate or volunteer with The Salvation Army, please visit our website at