Google Finds Rich Don't Give to Poor

rich poor.jpg Two major points of interest from a new study on Patterns of Household Charitable Giving which was funded by Google:

Less than one-third of the donations Americans give to charities actually benefit the disadvantaged. Of the $250 billion that individuals contributed in 2005, about $19 billion -- less than 10 percent -- went directly to organizations that help the underprivileged meet their basic needs. Instead, the bulk of donations went to religious organizations to pay for congregational operating expenses, while private schools, universities, hospitals, and arts organizations received the majority of the rest.

Wealthier individuals are less likely to target their giving to the needy. For example, families with annual household incomes between $200,000 and $1 million gave 29 percent of their donations to groups that help the poor, while those in the wealthiest households (defined as earning $1 million or more) earmarked only 22 percent of their donations for the poor. In contrast, families with incomes of $200,000 or less gave 36 percent of their donations on average to help the disadvantaged.

It was Theresa Odendahl’s writings, in the early 90’s, which helped me understand the extent to which most giving by the wealthy is to nonprofit efforts that enhance their own lifestyle. (Check out Charity Begins at Home: Generosity and Self Interest Among the Philanthropic Elite.) Call me naïve, but I found it as shocking then as I do today. I wonder what Google was trying to get to by funding new research that reconfirms this dynamic in the present day?

Susan Herr

Posted at 1:08 AM, Oct 10, 2007 in High Net Worth Donors | Permalink | Comments (2)


You might be interested to learn that according to some research we did here in the UK a lack of time is the main reason why people don’t raise money for charity. But nearly a third would do so if they could integrate it in to their daily life.

We didn't look at whether income made a difference - but it would interesting to find out if wealth affected giving habits in the UK as well.

Posted by: Polly Gowers

Hi, Susan. It's posts like these that help me remember how much I miss you.

There's a lot that's shocking in our field.

Posted by: Albert