Wealthy Cut Back on Charitable Donations

Article excerpt

Byline: Margaret Collins and Alexis Leondis Bloomberg News

NEW YORK -- Wealthy U.S. households made smaller charitable donations last year, while the number of those giving remained the same, according to a Bank of America study.

Average giving by survey respondents decreased 35 percent to $54,016 last year compared with 2007, after adjusting for inflation, the biennial report found. About 98 percent of the 801 households in the survey donated to philanthropies in 2009, unchanged from two years earlier. Bank of America surveyed households with an income greater than $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding primary residences.

The percentage of income dedicated to giving fell to about 9 percent from 11 percent in 2007, Tuesday's report said. High net-worth households account for about two-thirds of all individual giving in the U.S., according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which cowrote the report.

"They're still giving with the same kind of loyalty and longevity and deliberateness," Claire Costello, private philanthropy executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, said in a telephone interview. …