The Rich Keep Getting Richer—and Everyone Else Donates to Charity

Top earners' donations fell as their share of national income went up.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Oct 6, 2014· 1 MIN READ
TakePart fellow Jessica Dollin studied journalism at the University of Arizona. She has written for the Phoenix New Times and HerCampus.

The wallets of wealthy Americans are getting fatter, while poor and middle-class Americans still struggle to recover from the recession. But a report released Monday suggests that despite record corporate profits and a bullish stock market, post-recession wealth isn't much benefiting those in need: According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the middle class and the poor are more likely than the rich to give to charitable causes.

The study shows that charitably giving by Americans earning at least $200,000 a year—which puts you firmly in the one percent if you're single—fell by 5 percent between 2006 and 2012. (You can find out your income percentile here.)

Researchers used tax data to track charitable gifts at the state, county, metropolitan-area, and zip code levels. In 2012, taxpayers donated $180 billion to charity, according to Giving USA, a public service institute involved in the research.

Americans donate 3 percent of their annual income to charity overall, a rate that remained unchanged despite the drop in charitable donations from wealthy Americans and the growing disparity between rich and poor. That indicates that the less wealthy have boosted their charitable donations even as their share of national income has fallen and the real income has remained flat.

Nonprofits are still hitting up high-income donors: Financial support from the wealthy increased by $4.6 billion, totaling $77.5 billion in 2012.

Some of the most charitable states, such as Utah and Alabama, are also the most religious, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. In Utah, members of the large Mormon population are expected to give 10 percent of their income to charity in a practice known as tithing. The study did not reveal where donors' money went.