Wealthiest Donors Gave 9 Percent of Their Income in 2007, Study Finds
Giving to the arts as a share of all high-net-worth philanthropy decreased from 13.2 percent to just 4.2 percent in that period.
Slightly more wealthy households gave to social-service groups in 2007 than two years earlier, but the size of their gifts remained small. Eighty-one percent of households donated to such charities, the most of any cause, but their average gift was only $3,578.
By contrast, educational institutions, which were the second-most-common type of organization to which wealthy households gave, received average contributions of $27,379.
Mr. Rooney said that more wealthy people may turn to support charities that serve basic needs as the economy worsens.
“If my portfolio is going down, then I probably feel like I need to be more strategic in my philanthropy,” he said. “And if my portfolio is going down, then the economy may be going down, and I may feel like I need to give more to help the needy.”
Rich people gave generously to religious causes-an average of $17,044 in 2007, according to the study — but such organizations were arguably less important for the wealthy than for other Americans.
Religious institutions are the biggest focus of most Americans’ philanthropy, but they were the third-largest recipient of dollars from affluent households.
Still, the survey found that how often people attended religious services, along with how much time they spent volunteering and how involved their children were in philanthropy, were significant influences on how much money people donated.
Those who attended religious services once a week gave $111,137, on average, while those who did not attend gave $76,112.
People who did not volunteer donated $35,127, on average, while those who spent from 101 to 200 hours volunteering donated an average of $124,267.
And families whose children participated in grant-making decisions gave $243,935, on average, more than triple the amount donated by those whose children were not involved in any kind of giving.