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Marketplace

Charitable giving not keeping up with highest incomes

Amy Scott Oct 6, 2014
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Are the rich getting less generous? A new report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy finds that while overall giving is up, the wealthiest Americans are giving a smaller share of their wealth to charity. Meanwhile, the less well-off are giving away more of what they earn.

The Chronicle looked at tax returns for those who itemized deductions in 2012. Those earning more than $200,000 a year gave 4.6 percent less of their income to charity than they gave in 2006, before the recession. Americans making less than $100,000 gave 4.5 percent more.

As the rich have grown richer—partly from stock market gains—their giving hasn’t kept pace, says Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer. Meanwhile, those closer to poverty have been more willing to dig deeper.

“People realize that they themselves are just one step away from possibly being homeless or jobless,” she says. “The more affluent people just aren’t as close to those folks.”

The biggest decline was in North Dakota, where residents gave away 16 percent less of their income in 2012.

That’s largely because incomes have grown so dramatically from the state’s oil boom, says Kevin Dvorak, president of the North Dakota Community Foundation.

For the newly wealthy, he says, it takes time “to kind of wrap your mind around, ‘Yes, all of my needs are going to be met and beyond, and now I have the ability to give as I never did before.’”

Overall, though, he says most charities in the state will tell you they’re faring much better.

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