Wealthy giving more

Charitable donations by the wealthiest individuals in the U.S. have grown over the past five years, led by entrepreneurs and rich volunteers, a new study says.

Almost two in three wealthy Americans say they increased their giving over the last five year, says the Bank of America survey, which targeted people with household incomes of at least $200,000 or net worth of at least $1 million.

People who amassed their fortunes through starting their own businesses were more generous than other wealthy groups, giving an average of $232,206 a year, followed by an average of $109,745 from those who inherited their wealth, says the survey, which was researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Volunteering time for charity seemed to indicate a higher level of financial contribution, the study says, with the amount donated increasing as volunteer hours increased.

Those volunteering from one to 50 hours a year gave an average of $31,092 annually, while those volunteering more than 200 hours averaged $132,086.

Almost nine in 10 survey respondents say they give to meet critical needs and almost as many cite a desire to give back to society, while only one in four say they are driven by their desire to leave a legacy.

More than half those surveyed say their level of giving would remain the same if the estate tax were repealed, the study says, and almost as many say they would continue to give if deductions for charitable contributions were zeroed out.

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