New research on wealthy donors’ philanthropic engagement and perspectives, released Tuesday, found that 91% of high-net-worth households donated to charity in 2015, well ahead of the general population that did so.
In addition, half of wealthy individuals in the study volunteered their time and talents last year to charitable organizations they cared about, twice the rate of the general population.
The 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, written and researched in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, was based on a survey of 1,435 U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their primary home) and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more.
Eighty-three percent of wealthy individuals in the poll said they planned to give more in the next three years than they had in the past. Women, African Americans and individuals 50 and younger were even likelier to increase their giving in the next three years.
Future levels of volunteerism are also promising, as 90% of wealthy individuals who currently volunteer said they expected to do as much or more over the next three years. Even among those who did not volunteer last year, 39% planned to do so during the coming years.
“Wealthy donors continue to be incredibly generous with their time and money in support of social change in their communities and in the world,” said Claire Costello, national philanthropic practice executive for U.S. Trust. “And while their charitable activity is driven to a large extent by their personal values and convictions, donors are also listening closely to the needs of nonprofits as they make their giving and volunteering decisions.”
Last year, wealthy donors contributed to eight different nonprofit organizations on average. Sixty-three percent gave to basic needs groups, making it the charitable subsector supported by the largest percentage of high-net-worth households.
Other favored causes: religion—50%, environment—42%, health—40%, K-12 education—33%, and higher education—31%.
The study found that among the wealthy, volunteering with a nonprofit group strongly correlated with giving to that organization. Eighty-four percent of high-net-worth individuals gave financially to at least some of the organizations where they volunteered, while 49% gave to most, if not all, such organizations.
The research showed that volunteerism also influenced giving levels. Wealthy individuals who volunteered in 2015 gave 56% more on average than those who did not.
Volunteerism had other effects. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they experienced a high degree of personal fulfillment from their volunteer work, compared with 42% said they were fulfilled by their charitable giving. Women in the study said they derived greater levels of fulfillment from volunteering than men, as did younger individuals compared with those older than 50.
A quarter of wealthy individuals reported contributing to a political candidate, campaign or committee last year or said they planned to do so during the 2016 election season. Among this group, 40% donors over the age of 70 and 38% of LGBT individuals were likely to make such political contributions.
Democrats could expect contributions from 36% of those surveyed, Republicans from 22%.
Among wealthy individuals who contributed to a political candidate or campaign, 56% said they did so as an opportunity to exercise their voice, 49% to influence the outcome of elections and 46% believing their contribution could make a difference.
Seventy-six percent of respondents had not and did not plan to make political contributions during the current election cycle. Nearly half felt such contributions would have little to no effect when compared with corporate contributions, and 26% when compared with political action committees.
About a third believed such contributions would not make a difference, and a quarter did not have a particular candidate they would endorse.