Nine in 10 wealthy American households gave to charities last year, and 48% volunteered time to nonprofit organizations and causes, according to the biennial U.S. Trust study of high-net-worth philanthropy, released in mid-October in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
In 2017, average giving amounts rose by 15% to $29,269, compared with two years ago. One-quarter of wealthy donors gave to disaster relief efforts, motivated by media coverage of the devastation and lack of confidence in government relief efforts, the study found.
Wealthy donors supported a wide range of charitable causes with basic needs organizations receiving support from 54% of high-net-worth households, religion from 49% of households, healthcare or medical research from 36% and educational causes from 36%.
The study population comprised 1,646 respondents, 51% of which identified themselves as female and 49% male. Respondents had a median annual household income of approximately $350,000 and median net worth of $2 million.
Two-thirds of respondents were baby boomers and older, while one-third were Gen Xers or millennials. In terms of race and ethnicity, 78% were Caucasian/whites, 9% Asian-American/Pacific Islanders, 6% Black/African-Americans, 6% Hispanics/Latinos and 1% other race. In addition, 7% of households identified themselves as LGBTQ.
“The giving patterns and preferences revealed by this year’s study point to an evolving philanthropic landscape driven by a younger and diverse group of donors who are reshaping the future of giving,” Ann Limberg, head of philanthropy and family office solutions at U.S. Trust, said in a statement.
Una Osili, professor of economics and philanthropic studies at the Lilly School, pointed out that while the contribution of women, minority racial and ethnic groups, and the LGBTQ community were gaining greater recognition and importance, “these groups have long been an important part of philanthropy and the nonprofit community.”
The study found that women were at the forefront of philanthropic engagement and impact. Ninety-three percent of wealthy women reported giving to charity, 56% volunteered, 6% participated in impact investing and 23% serve on the board of a nonprofit organization.
One-quarter of high-net-worth female donors supported causes or organizations aimed at benefiting women and girls. Their chief motivation for this giving was their belief that it was a way to solve societal problems.
A recent report by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University said that women increased their giving to organizations with “a perceived liberal or progressive political leaning” in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.