Wealthy say they may give less

While most wealthy Americans still feel obliged to invest in their communities in the economic downturn, wealthy people worry they may not be able to keep giving at past levels, a new survey says.

Among 1,046 Americans with at least $500,000 in investable assets surveyed in the sixth annual Wealth and Values survey by PNC Wealth Management, 55 percent said they had an “obligation to give back financially to my community,” compared to 58 percent in 2008 and 54 percent in 2006 and 2007.

But 28 percent said they had reduced their total charitable giving in response to the ailing economy, or planned to reduce it, compared to 13 percent who said they had increased their giving or planned to increase it.

Among Americans with $5 million or more in investable assets, 24 percent are concerned about their ability to give to charities, compared to 16 percent of those with $500,000 to $1 million in assets.

“The economy has forced a fundamental shift in how the wealthy approach their philanthropic activities,” Bruce Bickel, senior vice president at PNC Wealth Management and head of its private foundation management services, says in a statement.

“In many cases they are refining their giving to reflect the potential for greater impact to specific issues that are most meaningful to them, sometimes restricted by geographical preferences,” he says. “They are purposefully becoming more mission-driven and governed less by emotion.”

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