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Millionaires’ generosity may wane, study says

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American millionaires were a generous lot last year, increasing their contributions by more than 20 percent, but a new study says donations in 2007 will fall.

A shift in attitudes toward charitable giving marks a waning commitment to making donations, says “Wealth in America 2007,” a study of 1,000 millionaires conducted by Northern Trust.

The proportion of millionaires who say they plan to increase their donations this year fell to 27 percent from 44 percent in 2005, the study says, and fewer than six in 10 say they included charitable giving in their 2006 household budgets, compared to seven in 10 the year before.

The importance of donations as a tax strategy for the wealthy is decreasing as well, with 28 percent of millionaires noting its value last year, compared to 44 percent in 2005.

Given that only four in 10 millionaires say they are knowledgeable about planned giving, the study’s authors say education is key to increasing commitment to charitable giving.

Among planned gifts, bequests are the most popular, with one in four respondents reporting a bequest currently in their will.

Donations are strongest among “deca-millionaires,” or those with at $10 million plus liquid assets to invest, who on average increased their giving by half last year.

This wealthiest group also is more likely to use complex planned-giving vehicles and place more importance on leaving an estate to their heirs.

Among millionaires, the younger Generation X is more generous than Baby Boomers or people over age 61, the study says, and Gen X’ers also are more likely to say they plan to give more in 2007.

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