In charitable matters, those that ‘have,’ keep

The “have” society isn’t parting with its money as much anymore.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy survey says the wealthiest Americans aren’t giving as much of their wealth. At the same time, those who, perhaps, can least afford it are giving.

Only three counties in Minnesota — Pipestone, Stevens (Morris) and Kandiyohi (Willmar) — have a “giving ratio” of more than 4.12%.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Overall, Mississippi — perhaps the poorest state in the country — is second in giving, according to the analysis of census and tax revenue data. Utah is #1. Minnesota is well back in the pack, the survey said.

Says the Associated Press:

According to the report, changes in giving patterns were most pronounced in major cities, where the percentage of income that residents donated dropped markedly between 2006 and 2012. In Philadelphia and Buffalo, New York, the share of income given to charity fell by more than 10 percent; there was a 9 percent drop in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

Tami Phillips of the Midnight Mission, a Los Angeles charity serving homeless people, credited gifts from low- and moderate-income people, for helping sustain its programs during the recession.

“It hits closer to home,” said Phillips. “Any day, they too could become homeless.”

The Chronicle’s editor, Stacy Palmer, noted that wealthy donors, overall, were more oriented toward support of the arts and higher education than lower-income donors, and less oriented toward support of social-service charities.

The Washington Post says the states’ rankings correspond with the percentage of people who are regular church-goers.

Utah residents proved to be the most generous, with a giving rate of 6.6 percent — for every $1,000 they brought in, they handed out $65.60. Utah is also known for its large population of Mormons, whose church asks them to give at least 10 percent of their income to charity. New Hampshire residents were the least giving, with a rate of 1.7 percent. Maine and Vermont weren’t so charitable either, also ranking among the lowest.

Palmer suggested the meager handouts in northern New England are partly because of low rates of church attendance, but the low rankings also stem from residents’ “independent streak” and a tradition of self-reliance.

Related: Watch Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Argue About Islam (Time).

  • I wonder if giving to religious institutions were counted as “charity” in these numbers?

    • Gary F

      You mean like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities?

      • Rich in Duluth

        No, I wonder about how much of that “charity” giving goes toward pastor’s, music director’s, organist’s, secretary’s salaries. How much goes toward paying off loans for buildings, building and grounds maintenance, books and teaching materials, etc.

        • Gary F

          Or public radio.

          • Rich in Duluth

            Onan was referring to charitable giving to “religious institutions. It seems appropriate to stay within that context in this particular thread.

          • Gary F

            NPR/MPR considered a “charity” and contributions are tax deductible. How is that different than the overhead at a church?

          • Just to clarify the methodology — because that was the original question — the survey looked at income tax returns that consisted of itemized deductions and those deductions thereon.

            So presumably, every organization that is a 501(c)(3) organization would all be lumped together.

          • Rebecca Coleman

            In our moderate income household, our charitable giving (say 4-5 percent or so), combined with with other deductibles, is still less than the standard deduction. We do get credit on our MN taxes.

          • Rich in Duluth


            It’s not different to the overhead at a church, but the context on Onan’s comment was that of giving to churches.

            Personally, I give to charities that give direct services to needy people, such as the food shelf, soup kitchen, and local charities that provide housing and clothing. I think that Onan was speaking to the “quality” of charitable giving. Is giving to an institution of equal quality to giving to organizations that do direct service? I think direct services organizations are of higher quality. I realize it’s off topic, slightly, but Onan made a good point.

  • I’d say it’s important to note that this report covers the time period up to 2012. The rich are giving again – but percentage-wise are they giving more or less than during the recession? Don’t know. I’m interested in the psychology- you’d think the percentage of giving would remain fairly constant.

  • Gary F

    No mention that they are paying more in taxes.

    • 2012. That was the year Gov. Dayton gave only $1k to charity, wasn’t it?

    • tboom

      but less as a percentage, I believe.

  • ec99

    Is it just coincidence that this story shows up during MPR’s pledge drive?

    • You have an accusation you’d like to make, ec99? Bring it.

      • ec99

        A little touchy, aren’t we?

        • No, but I’m not from Minnesota so when a person not using a real name drops a little innuendo about my ethics, I require them to bring some facts to the discussion. Otherwise, you’re trolling.

    • The supporting stories were posted earlier on October 6th. Seeing that this is a news blog, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Mr. Collins just got this in his newsfeed and passed on a story that he found interesting.

      The fact that this story was published by WaPo and the AP during MPR’s pledge drive is just a coincidence.

  • David

    Just had this conversation with a group of friends about two weeks ago. We’ve always had a 1%. It just seems that in the days of old, the 1% was more engaged in community development – funding libraries, orchestras, museums, theater and hospitals, for example. Now it seems they are more interested in collecting property and moving their wealth off-shore. Much more of an “I’ve got mine and I’m going to get more” attitude.

    • MrE85

      Hasn’t it been reported that middle class and lower-middle class donate a higher % of their income than the rich? Perhaps because we can see ourselves in need, if we miss a paycheck or too. Full disclosure: like Bob, I work for a nonprofit that depends on donations.

      • David

        Yes, though it weren’t always so (especially if you discount the religious institutions). I’m thinking of Carnegie, Pillsbury, Washburn, Crosby, Rockefeller and so on. These, and others, poured fortunes into building social infra-structure in our communities.
        This in the face of top tax rates around 90%. Today, if you factor in all the various fees and taxes, low and middle income often pay a higher % if their earnings to the government than the top tier. The top tax brackets today are significantly lower than they were during our post WW2 economic growth from the 50’s through the 90’s. Yet it seems, for some, their tax rates are never low enough.

        • In real dollars though, the dip in percentage of giving doesn’t come close to canceling out the increase in income in the top 1%. So those people are still donating a TON of money. Every charity in this town really runs on the rich people who donate quite a bit. You might expect the rich to stay at a constant percentage, though. The dollars are still going up.

          • David

            I agree with you. Many rich people donate a ton of money. What I see as having changed is social organizations such as schools, orchestras and libraries getting less support from big money families and having to rely more and more on small donation campaigns and bake and book sales.
            This may or may not be a good thing – it makes fund raising more expebsive and forces organizations to work harder to raise money as it engages a wider portion of the populace.
            Regarding your point that the dip in giving doesn’t cancel out the increase in income – I’m not clear what you are trying to say. Giving is down a little compared to income being up a lot. Doesn’t that seem to support my point that the current generation of rich folks have not been as generous as previous generations ( even if they do give a ton if $ (Grandpa had 10 tons, gave 1.1; Grandson has 100 tons, gave 1) )?

          • Your point on the smaller donors and the work to raise that money is spot on. Very true, and a real problem/opportunity.

            Indeed, in purely objective terms, the current generation is not as generous if you look at percentages. But personally, as my income has gone up, I haven’t thought of my giving in terms of percentage of income. I give more dollars.

            Since income has gone up at such an absurd rate, it doesn’t shock me that the rich givers aren’t thinking of their giving as a percentage.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Is it weighted against income growth?