The wealthiest American households may have scaled back on charitable giving in the past few years, but they're anything but a bunch of tight wads, a new study finds.
Of households that earned more than $200,000 in 2011, 95 percent donated to at least one charity, according to the 2012 Bank of America Study of HIgh Net Worth Philanthropy. Charitable giving made up about 9 percent of their total wealth in all.
That's a 3 percent drop from a peak of 98 percent in 2009, but still 30 percent more than the 65 percent or so less well-heeled Americans who contribute.
In dollars and cents, America's richest families donated $52,770 on average, down about 9 percent from 2009's high of $56,621.
But rather than just mailing checks, it turns out wealthier Americans have been putting more stock in active volunteering. Nearly 90 percent of high earning households volunteered in 2011, a healthy 10 percent surge over 2009. More than one-third contributed 200 hours or more.
Most households contribute to several causes, but the vast majority favor education and basic needs, which receive funds from about 80 percent of high income families. More than two-thirds take an interest in arts and culture as well.
However, religion is still king when it comes to attracting high worth donors. More than 35 percent of wealthy households gave the biggest chunk of change to religious organizations, with education drawing funds from 10 percent fewer donors.
Oddly enough, more wealthy donors are seeking outside guidance on where to channel their cash than ever. Forty percent admitted they asked at least one advisor (usually an accountant) for advice on charitable giving. Much of that might have to do with where their cash is going. Of those who donated to donor-advised funds, foundations and charitable trusts, about one-third went to a bank or trust company for advice first.
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