05/09/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Food, Shelter, Disease Research Most Important For Giving, Poll Shows

A new poll conducted by PARADE suggests what many in the nonprofit world have suspected: that the economic recession has made Americans more inclined to give and be involved in their communities, especially as it relates to helping the needy. It's also likely to benefit future generations, as 90% of American parents say they teach their children the importance of activism.

One of the most telling aspects of the poll is how it analyzes the causes Americans care about. Over 1,000 were asked how they would donate $100,000 to various causes. Applicants supported "food and shelter for the needy" the most, with "research to cure disease" coming in at a close second. Disaster relief, animal welfare and youth programs were third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Deemed the least deserving of contributions were "visual and or performing arts," "promoting world democracy" and giving to religious charities.

Some other interesting findings from PARADE:

Most of the poll respondents are motivated toward public service by simple altruism -- 60% want to help other people, and 57% want to make the world a better place. However, many people are specifically moved to act on behalf of their own communities. Nearly half of respondents (49%) want to improve their neighborhoods. Daniel Freedman, 27, a Los Angeles law-school student, and his friends started a nonprofit organization that uses the resources and talent of area universities to address local environmental problems. "It's like what Gandhi said about being the change you want to see in others," Freedman explains. "You have to start in your own backyard."

Read the full article for more results.