Times are tough, and nobody knows that better than those who continue to struggle financially. Yet America's poor are giving more to charity than they have in previous years, while the nation's wealthy seem to be tightening their purse strings.
According to a new survey from researchers at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, wealthy Americans gave less to charity in 2012 when compared to 2006, while poorer Americans gave more respectively.
Researchers found that Americans making at least $200,000 a year gave 5 percent less in 2012 than in 2006. This has meant smaller and fewer donations to the universities, hospitals, and cultural programs often sponsored by the wealthy. On the flip side, lower- and middle-class Americans — defined as those making less than $100,000 per year — gave 5 percent more to charity in 2012 than they did in 2006. And the poorest Americans — those who made less than $25,000 per year — gave 17 percent more over the same time period.
Why is it that those who have so little would give so much when the times are hardest? According to researchers, lower- and middle-class Americans give most often to social service organizations and other programs aimed at helping America's poor. And if anyone knows what it's like to be poor, it's those who are living it day to day. Unlike their wealthier peers, these groups are more likely to know others who have recently lost their jobs or homes, thus they are more sympathetic to these causes and more willing to help, even though money is tight.
The Chronicle report also looked at where in the nation American giving has increased and decreased. Researchers found that the steepest declines were in urban areas, with Philadelphia and Buffalo, New York, showing the sharpest drops. Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Washington, D.C., also saw significant decreases in charitable giving.
Among the country's 50 largest cities, Las Vegas reported the largest increase in charitable giving as residents gave nearly 15 percent more of their incomes to nonprofits in 2012 than in 2006.
The report also found that Utah residents were the most generous in the nation, donating $65.60 to charity for every $1,000 earned, whereas New Hampshire was the least generous state, with residents donating $17.40 of every $1,000 earned.
Dollar for dollar, wealthy Americans still gave more, donating $77.5 billion to charity in 2012. But the nation's poor were not far behind in dollar figures, giving away $57.3 billion in the same year — and from a much smaller pot.
Related on MNN:
- J.K. Rowling's charity giving knocks her off Forbes' billionaires list
- How to support your favorite charity without sending a big check
- How America gives: Charitable donations by state