Americans More Optimistic About Giving in 2011, Survey Finds

According to a survey conducted during the first full week of the year, for the first time in four years Americans say they are likely to increase their charitable giving in 2011.

Conducted January 6-10, the annual Dunham+Company New Year's Philanthropy Survey (38 pages, PDF) found that the number of households which say they plan to boost their giving increased 29 percent, while the number of households which said they are likely to reduce giving fell 48 percent.

According to the survey, 33 percent of households earning at least $50,000 said they planned to give more in 2011, while nearly one in five of those earning at least $100,000 said they intend to give more (and 77 percent said they planned to give the same).

The survey also found that 48 percent of Americans said the charitable tax deduction was an important consideration when determining how much they give to charity and that its importance increased as household income increased — a finding that seems to belie the results of previous studies. According to survey results, the deduction is most important to those between the ages of 45 and 64 (55 percent of respondents), with the younger half of that cohort (45 to 54) giving it the most weight in their calculations.

"After three years of Americans indicating a weakening support for charities, it is very encouraging to see nearly a 30 percent jump in the number of households that say they plan on increasing their giving to charity, with those saying they are decreasing their giving dropping from 27 percent to only 14 percent," said Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. "But, I must say I am concerned with the potential impact on charities should Congress move to eliminate the charitable tax deduction as part of tax reform. The study shows clearly that this tax deduction is a significant factor in giving for the households that are the backbone of charity."

"Americans Plan to Give More to Charity in 2011." Dunham+Company Press Release 01/17/2011.