Study Shows Americans Plan to Give More to Charity in 2011


Issue: March 2011

Study Shows Americans Plan to Give More to Charity in 2011

For the first time since the recession began, Americans say that in 2011 they are more likely to increase their giving to charity than decrease their charitable support, according to the annual Dunham+Company New Year’s Philanthropy Survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies.

Compared to 2010, there is a 29 percent surge in households that say they plan to increase their giving in 2011, a 20 percent jump in households that say their giving will stay the same and a 48 percent drop in the number of households that say they will decrease their giving.

Overall, nearly 1 in 5 respondents (18 percent) say they plan to increase their giving in 2011.

“This year’s study is very good news for charities,” said Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. “After three years of Americans indicating a weakening support for charities, it is very encouraging to see such a significant jump in the number of households that say they plan on increasing their giving to charity, and those saying they would decrease their giving dropping by half.

“But I must say I am concerned with the potential impact on charities should Congress move to eliminate the charitable tax deduction as part of tax reform,” Dunham continued.

The survey found that 48 percent of Americans indicate that the deduction is important to them determining the amount they will give to charity. The importance of the charitable deduction rises as the household income increases, with 62 percent of those who make $100,000 or more saying it influences their giving.

This deduction is most significant to African-Americans as 57 percent say it is important to them, with almost one in two Hispanics and Whites saying the same. The demand for this deduction is consistent across the country except for the West, where 10 percent fewer households indicate it is important.

Of special note is that this deduction is most significant to those 45-64 years of age, the most vital giving demographic, with 55 percent saying the deduction is important to them.

“The study shows clearly that this tax deduction is a significant factor in charitable giving for the households that are the backbone of nonprofit support,” Dunham said. “Based on IRS data, households making more than $100,000 represent about 10 percent of the population but make up 69 percent of all individual charitable donations. For 2009, that would have equaled about $150 billion. ”

The greatest concentration of increased giving for 2011 will most likely be in the Northeast and the South as one in five households in these regions say they intend to increase their giving, compared to only 16 percent in the West and 14 percent in the Midwest.

This upbeat news for charities is fostered by the fact that 72 percent say that their financial situation has improved or at least stayed the same. Most importantly, 35 percent of households making $100,000 or more say their financial fortunes have increased.

“Based on our research, 2011 is a year when we could see the beginning of a comeback for charities,” Dunham concluded. “Congress must be careful as it works through tax reform, however, not to undermine this potential turnaround, and the strongest and most effective charitable sector in the world.”

The study was part of Wilson Research Strategies January Omnibus Study of 1,000 adults nationwide.


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