Wealthy American donors are contributing less to charity than their less affluent counterparts as the recovery from recession gains traction, according to a new study released this week by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The Chronicle reported that Americans continued to give on average about 3% of their income to charity in 2012, a rate that has been entrenched for decades.
However, the wealthiest Americans — those who earned $200,000 or more — cut back the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6% from 2006 to 2012, whereas those who earned less than $100,000 donated 4.5% more of their income during the same time period.
Middle- and lower-income Americans increased the share of income they donated to charity, even as they took home less pay on average than they did in 2006.
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Still, charities depend on high-income supporters because their ranks are growing, the report said. Americans earning $200,000 or more in 2012 totaled 4.8 million, a million more than in 2006.
Total donations by the wealthiest grew by $4.6 billion, adjusted for inflation, reaching $77.5 billion in 2012, even as the share of income they gave shrank.
Donors who earned less than $100,000 gave $57.3 billion in 2012.
The Chronicle used IRS data to track gifts to charity at the state, county, metropolitan area and ZIP code levels among taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax forms. Because people who itemize typically are the biggest donors, The Chronicle said, its data covered about 80% of the donations individuals made to charity in 2012, as tabulated by Giving USA.
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