Some scaling back, but more coming through at the highest level
In a typical year, 39 percent of ultra-wealthy households would annually donate up to $10,000 to charitable causes. But 2012 has not been a typical year, and the stubbornly slow economic recovery has compelled even America’s wealthiest households to scale back on the amount they donate.
Twenty-four percent of households with a net worth of at least $25 million (not including primary residence) reported that they donated up to $10,000 in the last 12 months, according to a new Millionaire Corner wealth level study of these ultra-wealthy households. And while eight percent said that they typically do not donate any money, 10 percent said that they had not made any charitable contributions in the past year.
In his prepared statement announcing the latest round of quantitative easing, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted that the economy’s “moderate recovery” was not enough to make significant progress reducing the unemployment rate, which dipped last month to 8.1 percent, a result, many analysts observe, of more people leaving the labor force and giving up on finding a job (the government does not include these disappointed former job seekers amongst those officially counted as unemployed).
More than three-quarters of the ultra-wealthy said that the economy is their primary national concern, while nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said they are most worried about maintaining their economic position. This is down from 75 percent two years ago when we last surveyed ultra-wealthy households, but it is still a significant majority.
The ultra-wealthy, though, are basically meeting their projections for charitable contributions. Seventeen percent, for example, said they typically donate between $10,001 and $25,000, while 18 percent said they had actually done so in the past year. While an equal percentage said they typically donate between $25,000 and $100,000 annually, 18 percent said they had donated this amount in the past 12 months.
Where the ultra-wealthy really came through was at the highest contributory amount. While 19 percent said they annually donate at least $100,000 to charitable causes, 22 percent said they had actually done so in the past year. In comparison, 13 percent, the next highest percentage of $100,000-plus contributors, said they spent this amount in the past year on vacations or leisure travel.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.