On a recent business trip I stumbled across an article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy that was shocking. I have always assumed that the American spirit of giving to those less fortunate was a consistent bond we all share. This article debunked my naive perspective. A few facts – the rich are not the most generous, the highest givers in our country earn between $50,000 -75,000. In addition there are strong regional differences. The top two states for giving are Utah (10.6%) and Mississippi (7.6%) (Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina round out the top five) and the bottom two states for giving are Maine and New Hampshire at 3.3% and 2.5% respectively. Wealthier people who live in more diverse areas give more than people who live in homogeneously wealthy neighborhoods and more religious areas of the U.S. are more generous.
So what does this mean to you and to me as we think about our giving? Do you land in the 2% giving group or closer to the 10% giving group? Did your parents share what they gave to those less fortunate?
In my upbringing, I did experience a weekly tithing ritual and that was how I learned to calculate 10% of any number, something that has helped me in tipping since that time – I just double the tithe amount. So, I would fall into that category of being impacted by religious upbringing. So how does our family decide on our charitable giving and the amount? We are actively trying to get to a 10% number. As our income increased, our giving did not match, so for the last several years, we have tried to be more deliberate and increase our gifts until we get to 10%. We currently are at 8% as a family. We were recently told by our advisors that we are one of the largest givers in their book of business – and I thought they were just paying us a compliment – but maybe they were being honest!
What would it mean if all of America will give 1% more to those charities that are meaningful to them? Think of the impact that would have on our country. What would it offer to the next generation? I say, let’s start a generosity movement….what do you say?