New US study dispels myths about giving trends of the wealthy

New US study dispels myths about giving trends of the wealthy


Giving back, rather than leaving a legacy, is one of the findings of what motivates wealthy Americans in a comprehensive study of the country’s high-net-worth households.

Sponsored by the Bank of America and conducted by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the report Bank of America High Net-Worth Philanthropy Study reflects the opinions of nearly 1,000 respondents throughout the US with household income greater than $200,000 and/or net-worth of at least $1m.

The study dispels a few myths about giving by the wealthy. Over 80% said that important motivators were '“giving back to society”, while “leaving a legacy” was cited by only 26% of the respondents, with a desire to “limit the funds available to my heirs” cited by the fewest participants (8%).

The study also showed that those who write cheques are also likely to volunteer their time, and, the more time volunteered, the bigger the cheque.

Charitable giving has increased over the past five years, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of wealthy donors having somewhat or dramatically increased their giving.

Tax considerations are also far less important to them than is commonly assumed, and more than half the respondents (56%) said their giving would stay the same even if the estate tax were repealed.

 “Philanthropy in the United States is evolving dramatically", explained Cary Grace, Bank of America Philanthropic Management national executive on the need for the study. “With the wealthiest 3% of American households responsible for nearly two-thirds of charitable giving, Bank of America wanted to provide its clients – both the individuals that give and the non-profit institutions that seek their donations – the most comprehensive view to-date of the charitable giving trends and motivations of wealthy and affluent Americans.”

The full study is freely downloadable from the Bank of America website