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Wealthy Americans cut back on giving in 2009

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Wealthy Americans scaled back their charitable contributions nearly 35 percent in 2009, a recently released study of wealthy households shows.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy for 2010 found that average charitable giving dropped from $83,034 in 2007 to $54,016 in 2009, after adjusting for inflation.

Wealthy philanthropists drew the purse strings tightest on health organizations, where the average gift dropped 63.7 percent, from $12,430 to $4,511.

The study, conducted every two years in partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, examines the habits of wealthy households, which account for about half of all charitable giving in the United States.

Researchers surveyed more than 800 randomly selected households where income was greater than $200,000 per year, or net worth, excluding the value of the primary residence, was at least $1 million. The average wealth of respondents was more than $10 million, and half of them had a net worth between $3 million and $20 million.

The decline in giving reflected wealthy people’s own financial situations. Although total charitable dollars fell, giving as a portion of income remained somewhat steady at 9 percent, compared with 11 percent in 2007.

Wealthy philanthropists appeared to adjust their priorities in response to the recession. The portion who gave to basic human needs rose from 75 percent in 2007 to 85 percent in 2009.

Some types of not-for-profits received bigger gifts on average. Arts, which are already supported to a greater degree by wealthy people, saw the average gift rise 11.6 percent, to $5,531. Gifts to international causes and the environment and animals grew as well.

Tax issues are a significant motivator, researchers found. About two-thirds, or 67 percent, of wealthy households reported that they would somewhat or dramatically decrease their contributions if they were to receive zero income-tax deductions. That was up from 47 percent in 2007.

If the estate tax were repealed, 43 percent of wealthy households would somewhat or dramatically increase the amount they leave to charity. That was up from 36 percent in 2007.
 

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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