New Stats in Giving May Surprise You

Fundraising nerds, the stats are in. Americans still give about 3 percent of their income to charities and have for decades, according to a new report by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  But that figure doesn’t tell the really interesting story – one that I believe tells of a sense of community where most of us live – at the lower and middle parts of the income spectrum.

While it seems unfortunate that Americans earning more than $200,000 reduced their giving by 4.6 percent between 2006 and 2012 –  the figures just released – it is also heartening that lower income and middle income Americans increased their percentage of giving. Those making under $100,000 upped their contributions by $4.5 percent. The down side to this, of course, is the money they spend on charity may come out of essential needs. Yet I have to believe there is a pay back in the connection and the pride that they can contribute to their neighbors’ well-being.

What about the Why?

I wish I knew why these stats are as they are. What I do know is that the Northfield Area tracks pretty closely with the national data. Between 2006 and 2012 giving did go down a bit here per capita. We give close to the average – 3.13 percent.  We used to give 3.21 percent in 2006.

Less is more

Here’s a staggering figure – those who make under $25,000 give more than twice the average percentage – 7.79 percent – to charities. These figures are based on tax returns. I’m guessing the amount could be higher since many people don’t itemize at the lower to middle end of the income spectrum. Could a tax accountant weigh in please?

Northfield trends

The 55057 (Northfield) area code’s biggest giving total comes from those earning $100,000 to $200,000 – giving Northfield more than $5 million of the more than $16 million given in 2012. They give 3.05 percent of their income, as do those making $200,000 and up.

What I have observed at the Northfield Area United Way in 2014, though our campaign is not over, is exactly what is reported nationally – lower to middle income residents are stretching to give. Those at higher incomes are giving less to the United Way. Anecdotally, I hear major capital campaigns could be affecting annual giving for foundational services. Others remain committed to the United Way mission.

Why do you think it’s happening?

I would love to hear your comments on the reason behind these giving trends.



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