Wealthiest pulled back charitable giving while others stepped it up

Charitable GivingThe wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity from 2006 to 2012.

Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in more of their income during the same time period.

Even though wealthier Americans donated a smaller share of their income, the total amount of their charitable giving increased by $4.6-billion, to hit $77.5-billion in 2012, using inflation-adjusted dollars.

These results are from the latest How America Gives report just released by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The How America Gives report focuses on the percentage of disposable income given to charity. There are other measures of charitable giving, such as the percentage of the population who volunteer or donate focused on in a recent Gallup poll report and the percentage of wealth or assets given to charity.

This online data-packed report slices giving information by location and income levels. You can find how your state, city or even zipcode stacks up against others. A few highlights from the report,

  • Utah was the most generous state, and New Hampshire the least.
  • The four top cities as measured by total income—Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia. and Washington—each experienced declines in how much residents gave as a percentage of their income.
  • Of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, four of the five most generous cities were in the Sun Belt—Memphis, Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, and Nashville.
  • The 17 most generous states, as measured by share of income donated to charity, voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Florida, at 18, was the most generous state to vote for Barack Obama.
  • The highest-giving ZIP code was 96015, in California, which includes the town of Canby. The 645 people in that ZIP who filed itemized returns gave a total of $436,000, or 18 percent of their income.

It’s interesting to dig around in the data. At the Explore the Map page, I learned that the more affluent zipcode where I live now gave 2.56% of income in 2012, while the aged-city zipcode where I was raised gave 4.14% (both were down a bit from 2006 giving levels).

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has made portions of the report available for free; other sections are available only to subscribers.

The data doesn’t change the fact that giving is an individual decision that you and I must make. Let’s all continue our efforts to find and support strong charities doing solid work.