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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Charitable Giving Connects Women Across Race and Ethnicity

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A significant portion of all racial groups in the U.S. give to charity, and high-net-worth households are especially likely to do so, according to a new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

Among the communities studied, three in five Asian-American and white households and one in three Hispanic and African-American households in the general population give to charity. More than eight in 10 wealthy households across all racial groups make donations.

The report, which was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that a donor’s race does not have a major effect on how much he or she gives, after adjusting for factors such as wealth, income and education.

Gender patterns WPI research previously identified — that single women and married couples are likelier to give than single men — held true within each of the racial/ethnic groups studied.

The new study found that for all groups, single women were likelier than single men to give to charity:

  • Asian-American: 56.5% vs. 26.3%
  • White: 49.7% vs. 34.9%
  • African-Americans: 31.8% vs. 21.7%
  • Hispanic: 28.7% vs. 25.4%

Married and cohabiting couples were more likely than either single men or single women to do so: Asian-American and white, 69.8%; African-American 47.7%; and Hispanic, 38.7%.

Women Give 2019 highlights the universality of giving,” Debra Mesch, the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said in a statement.

“Women in communities of color may take different pathways to their philanthropy — learning from their families or religious traditions, or starting to give later in life. But the act of giving their time, talent and treasure is consistent for women across race and ethnicity.”

The report used data from the Philanthropy Panel Study and the U.S. Trust study of high-net-worth philanthropy, both of which were produced by the school. WPI also conducted case study interviews to supplement findings with real-life experiences of female philanthropists in communities of color.

The study found that other demographics besides race, such as income and wealth, have a stronger effect on household giving amounts.

When it comes to volunteering, a substantial portion of all racial groups give their time, the study found — at least one in four individuals in the general population and considerably higher percentages in the high-net-worth sample.

Communities of color appear to be less engaged in formal volunteering, but according to WPI, other research has found that informal volunteering rates — giving time, but not as part of a formal program or organization — are higher in these groups.

The research found that households across all racial groups give to similar causes. Religion and basic needs were the top two causes supported, along with health, family/youth and animals.

“This year’s Women Give report raises awareness that the generous philanthropy that takes place in diverse communities often goes unrecognized,” Una Osili, WPI’s associate dean for research and international programs, said in the statement.

“Women in communities of color can see themselves and their experiences reflected in this empirical research about generosity. To overcome outdated stereotypes of who a philanthropist is, the philanthropic sector must be more intentional about embracing and including diverse perspectives and approaches.”


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