I know what you’re thinking – it might be a little early for a holiday blog post. But now that giving season is in full force, with Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been thinking about how other people give back to their communities and those in need during the holiday season. This was all sparked by a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine named Connie, who told me about her good friend who politely requests that none of her children give her Christmas gifts. Instead, Connie’s friend asks that her children go volunteer during the holidays and, in turn, that they simply tell her about their experiences volunteering for her Christmas gift.

While there isn’t much data on volunteering during the holiday season, I found that Connie’s friend isn’t alone in embracing the good will that the holiday season entails. After all, it’s the season to be jolly – and for many Americans, to help those in need. In a survey conducted by the Red Cross in 2011, 4 in 5 Americans agreed that helping someone less fortunate is an important part of their holiday tradition. In the same survey, 79 percent of Americans also agreed that they’d rather have a charitable donation made in their honor than receive a gift they wouldn’t use.

As it turns out, Americans aren’t just paying lip service to the idea of giving to charities during the holidays. Giving by corporations around the holidays is estimated to have increased by 12.2 percent in 2012. On an individual level, in a 2011 holiday charity survey, 57 percent of respondents said they donate to a charity in some way over the holiday season.  Of those who do, 46 percent said they make a monetary donation directly to a charitable organization, and 22 percent donate their time through volunteering. Additionally, 64 percent of respondents said they donate to a third party (e.g., a bell ringer) and 24 percent buy gifts for people through an angel tree or adopt-a-family program.

It will be interesting to see what the numbers show regarding holiday giving in 2013. On average, charitable organizations in the US raise between 30 to 40 percent of their annual income during the last few weeks of the year. What kinds of numbers do you think we’ll see at the end of 2013?