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Charitable Giving Among Wealthy Americans

In general, Americans give about 3 percent of their income to charitable organizations.  

| BY Kent McDill

A comparison of charitable giving among wealth classes is a matter of proportion, but the most recent study indicates wealthy Americans are giving less to charity and the lower classes of Americans are giving more.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, statistics from 2012 show that Americans who earned at least $200,000 gave 5 percent less to charity than they did in 2006, prior to the Great Recession.  It is an indication the recovery has not fully hit home with the richest Americans.

“The downturn was a shock to so many of them, and they’ve been nervous and cautions,’’ said Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer.

In determining its statistics, the Chronicle looked at itemized deduction data from the Internal Revenue Service, including charitable gifts, in both 2006 and 2012.

The wealthiest Americans tend to contribute to cultural institutions, hospitals, and universities, whereas lower and middle income donors tend to donate to social service organizations like the Red Cross.

The 2012 data showed that Americans who made less than $100,000 gave 5 percent more in 2012 than they did in 2006 (with inflation taken into account). Even more dramatic was the charitable giving by Americans who make less than $25,000, with their contributions up 17 percent over 2006.

“Lower and middle-income people know people who lost their jobs or are homeless, and they worry that they themselves are a day way from losing their jobs,’’ Palmer said in an interview with Forbes. “They are very sensitive to the needs of other people.”

In terms of absolute dollars, Americans with an income of $200,000 or more gave $77.5 billion in 2012, and those making less than $100,000 gave $57.3 billion. In general, Americans give about 3 percent of their income to charity.

According to Spectrem’s unique report on investors with at least $25 Million in net worth, 47 percent give at least $10,000 annually to charity, and 25 percent give at least $25,000.

The Chronicle found that donating in the 36 biggest cities in America decreased in terms of share of income. The state of Utah was the most generous, with $65.50 donated for every $1,000 earned, and Nevada had the largest increase in donations. New Hampshire was discovered to be the least generous state, with residents donating just $17.40 for every $1,000 earned.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.