Nonprofits shouldn’t count on the wealthy to increase donations anytime in the near future: Only one-quarter of them will increase their giving over the next five years, according to preliminary results of a new survey released today.
The study of more than 700 affluent Americans found that half plan to give the same amount they donated in 2011, while 9 percent plan to decrease their giving.
Una Osili, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which conducted the biennial study, said she considered it a good sign, given the struggling economy, that such a small share of people were planning to decrease their giving.
The report, which was sponsored by Bank of America, surveyed donors who live primarily in the United States and who have incomes of more than $200,000 or a net worth of more than $1-million. The full results of the survey will be released later this month.
Religious causes were most likely to receive donors’ biggest gifts, with more than a third of donors channeling their largest contribution to a congregation or other faith organization.
Education commanded second place, with a quarter of donors saying they gave their largest donation to a college, school, or other group focused on improving learning.
A far smaller share of donors, 5.1 percent, are directing their largest donations toward basic needs such as food and shelter, and about the same proportion say they give their biggest gifts to groups like the United Way, Catholic Charities, and others that provide human services.
Nonprofits working on causes like education, health, and stimulating the economy could probably do more to appeal to the affluent, the study suggests, because those are the issues that rich donors say they are most interested in.
Nearly 60 percent said education was one of their top three concerns, followed by health care (45 percent), the economy (just under 38 percent), and poverty (34 percent).
The housing crisis ranked last as a chief concern of wealthy donors, with only 4 percent saying it was a major issue.
The study for the first time asked charity donors about their giving to political causes and candidates and found that 51 percent of wealthy donors give money to political campaigns. That’s far different than the general American population: Less than 1 percent Americans give $200 or more to political causes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Among the study’s additional preliminary results:
• Nearly 71 percent of donors surveyed said they have a philanthropic strategy, and about 61 percent said they have a giving budget.
• Nearly 80 percent said they focused their giving on a set of issues or a geographical area.
• More than 48 percent said they made their giving decisions with a spouse or partner; another 48 percent said they were the primary or sole decision maker but consulted with a spouse or partner about where and how to give.