High-net-worth households in the United States gave $29,269 to charity on average in 2017, up 15 percent from 2015, a report from U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds.
Based on a survey of more than sixteen hundred U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their primary home) and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more, the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that 90 percent of wealthy Americans gave to charity in 2017 and 48 percent volunteered time to a nonprofit organization and/or cause. Wealthy Americans in the survey were most likely to support basic needs (54 percent of households), religious or spiritual organizations (49 percent), health care or medical research (36 percent), combined charities (31 percent), youth- and family-serving nonprofits (29 percent), and disaster relief efforts (25 percent). In terms of total dollar amounts, the lion's share of giving went to religious or spiritual organizations (43 percent), followed by basic needs (19 percent).
The biennial study also found that women were at the forefront of philanthropic engagement, with 93 percent of HNW women in the survey saying they give to charity, 56 percent saying they volunteer, 6 percent saying they've made impact investments, and 23 percent saying they serve on a nonprofit board.
In addition, the majority of survey respondents said they expect to maintain (84 percent) or increase (4 percent) the amount they give to charity in 2018. High-net-worth donors also reported having the most confidence in nonprofit organizations (86 percent) to solve societal or global problems, while confidence in the federal government and the public sector was down from 2015 levels.
"It's important to note that wealthy donors include people from diverse backgrounds and giving traditions," said Una Osili, professor of economics and philanthropic studies and associate dean for research and international programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "While the impact and contribution of women, racial and ethnic groups, and the LGBTQ community are gaining greater recognition and importance, these groups have long been an important part of philanthropy and the nonprofit community."