Its writing credits are given to Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, although it is a Hodgson composition. Hodgson and Davies shared writing credits from 1974 until 1983, when Hodgson left Supertramp. The song is characterized by the ringing tones of 12-string acoustic guitars, which is joined by a HohnerClavinet through a Leslie speaker in the bridge of the song.
Drummer Bob Siebenberg recounted that "Roger had been working at Malibu for quite a while on this tune. I'd hear the song in hotel rooms and places like that. He had the song on a little tape when I first joined the band so I was quite familiar with the tune. We tried out various drum things and it seemed right to ride it along on the snare drum... giving it something almost like a train beat. So it's all on the snare and bass drum, with no tom-tom fills or anything."
A short snippet of the song is played in the film Superman shortly before Lois Lane's death scene. The song, however, is not featured on the movie's soundtrack.
The song was used interwoven with the final scenes and part of the end credits for the Ricky Gervais film The Invention of Lying.
The song was used in 2014 for Stouffer's, Coca Cola's Share Happiness commercials and for Target Australia's Christmas commercials in 2014.
"Give a Little Bit" was recorded to be released on the live album Paris, but the song was dropped because the band members found all the available recordings of the song to be of unacceptable quality. After Hodgson had left Supertramp, it was included in almost all his live performances. The song has also been performed by Hodgson during his tour with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 2001; a recording appears on the album Ringo Starr and Friends. On Sunday 1 July 2007, Roger Hodgson sang this song as his finale for his short set at the Concert for Diana, held in Wembley Stadium in London.
After Hodgson's departure from Supertramp, the band included the song for the first time in their set list in 2002 during their One More For The Road Tour. The song was sung by Jesse Siebenberg. They also played the song in their 70-10 Tour in 2010.