Review of Charitable Giving by Affluent Households

Review of Charitable Giving by Affluent Households – Part 1

What is this Report?

The 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy report is the 9th biennial examination about philanthropic attitudes, priorities, and more for affluent US households in 2022. It is written as a collaboration between Bank of America and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. It is based on 1,623 wealthy US households, defined as either a net worth $1M+ or annual household income of $200K+. The average mean income was $523,472 and average mean wealth of $31M.

What are key findings from the Report?

  • People are returning to volunteering comparable to pre-pandemic times (36.8% in 2022 compared to 30.4% in 2020). This is particularly notable that people who volunteer gave three times as much as those who do not ($18,411 v. $5,267). Blacks/African Americans were more likely to volunteer compared to non-Blacks/African Americans (46% v. 36%). Women also were more likely to volunteer compared to men (42% v. 33%).
  • Over 85% of affluent people gave to charity in 2022. However, this is a drop off from prior years in the study: 89.6% in 2017, 88.1% in 2020.  The top reason for not giving in 2022 was because of a priority of taking care of family’s needs (43.6% of those surveyed who did not give) and not having the resources (25.5% of those surveyed).
  • About 63% of affluent individuals surveyed said they preferred email as the form of outreach from a nonprofit. Almost a third preferred mail and 10% wanted a phone call or voicemail. However, Black/African Americans were more likely to prefer phone calls/voicemails or in person meetings compared to non-Black/African Americans. Hispanics/Latinos preferred outreach via text while Asian Americans preferred in-person meetings. More women preferred social media outreach compared to men.
  • When asked about where they gave, 77.8% reported that they gave at the local and community level. National came next (37.8%) and state and international almost tied (15.1% and 14.1% respectively).
  • The more affluent a household is the greater likelihood they used a giving vehicle. Over 54% of Households with $5M-$20M surveyed have or plan to use a giving vehicle, such as a foundation or donor advised fund, while only 19.1% of households with less than $1M do.

What can I do as a result?

  • Make sure you are cultivating your volunteers and including them in prospect identification efforts. Many studies find that volunteers give more and larger gifts. How are you tracking their work and acknowledging their work? How well do you know your volunteers? You may have some hidden major gift prospects among your volunteers, and this might even help to diversify your board.
  • Emailing prospects might be a better way forward than snail mail or a phone call. If you are having trouble reaching a prospect via phone, it might be worth emailing them instead.
  • Pay attention to the habits of all your donors including groups that may have been underrepresented and/or under-asked in the past. Some groups prefer engagement in one way while others in another. Make sure to drive sincere and mutually beneficial relationships with underrepresented constituents.
  • While total giving may have gone down in 2022, as per Giving USA 2023’s recent results, affluent individuals are still giving. Keep engaging them in multiple ways to cultivate that relationship.
  • Consider how you are framing issues to your affluent local donors. Since local giving is king, you may want to consider how your organization is positively impacting the local community. Your non-local donors will still give, but you might highlight locality in messaging to your local donors..
  • And as always, be mindful of your donor advised fund donors. We know that the amount of donations going to donor advised funds, and from donor advised funds to nonprofits keeps going up. Most donors give with their donor name and address; only 4% want to be anonymous.

Additional Resources

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