The 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy has a lot of information about the attitudes and giving behaviors of wealthy donors. The study is part of an ongoing research partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which began in 2006. There are 75 pages of statistics and trend information in the report.
About the Study Participants
This study reflects the attitudes and behaviors of more than 800 respondents throughout the United States with household income greater than $200,000 and/or net worth (excluding the value of their residence) of at least $1,000,000. The average wealth of respondents was $10.7 million. Half of those who responded had a net worth between $3 million and $20 million.
Giving Amount Trends
High net worth households gave $54,016 on average to charity in 2009. This is a 34.9% decrease from 2007 ($83,034), after adjusting for inflation. Average total giving to religious causes dropped in 2009 to $9,985 from $17,635 in 2007, a decrease of 43.4%. Average total giving to secular causes was also down in 2009 to $46,852 from $71,200 in 2007, a decrease of 34.2%. High net worth households gave the highest average amount to foundations, funds, and trusts in 2009 ($75,867), an increase of 21 percent from 2007. Wealthy households also gave a substantial amount, on average, to education ($12,759 in 2009). High net worth households gave, on average, between 8% and 16.5% of their income to charity in 2009.
Smörgåsbord of Stats
Here are just a sample of some of the statistics in the report worth noting:
- 98.2% of high net worth households donated to charity in 2009
- 85.4% instruct their children/younger relatives about philanthropy through the parents‟ personal efforts and family‟s network of friends/peers
- 72.4% of wealthy households reported that they give when they believe their gift will make a difference
- 67% of wealthy households would somewhat or dramatically decrease their charitable contributions if they received zero income tax deductions for their donations
- 67.5% consulted accountants, 40.8% consulted attorneys and 38.8% consulted financial/wealth advisors when making charitable decisions
- 55% of high net worth households gave their largest gift in 2009 to fund general operations at nonprofit organizations
- 54.6% reported that two decision-makers were involved when making decisions about their charitable giving
- 43% reported that they would leave more to charity if the estate tax were repealed
- 41% of couples conferred with members of their household and then made joint decisions
- 38% made a donation online
- 15.6% made a donation in 2009 to a private foundation, a donor-advised fund, or a charitable trust
- 7.9% reported that the disaster relief donation replaced other gift(s) they make
Giving Time, Talent, and Treasure
The more high net worth individuals volunteered, the more they gave. Non-volunteers gave $46,414, on average, in 2009 while those who volunteered between 101 and 200 hours donated on average $48,860 in 2009, and those who volunteered more than 200 hours donated on average $75,662 to charity in 2009.