Here’s Where the Rich Are Donating Their Money

Some charities or causes seem to get more financial attention than others in terms of where wealthy people donate their money.

And now we have a bit more insight into where that is, thanks to this sneak peek of an extensive report from the U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy called the 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, due out in full on Oct. 25.

The Method

The study was administered nationally, through a 70-question survey, to high net worth individuals (households with incomes $200,000 and/or net worth of more than $1,000,000 — excluding the monetary value of their homes) between May 2016 and September 2016. More than 1,500 responding households met the income and/or wealth criteria for this study. There was no reported margin of error for the full study.

“For the last decade, [the study] has been an important barometer for charitable engagement and perspectives. The latest study will once again offer valuable insights that help inform the strategies of nonprofit professionals, wealthy donors and charitable advisors alike,” Claire Costello, managing director and National Philanthropic Specialist for U.S. Trust, told

The Winner Is …

The biggest category wealthy donors gave to last year was to Basic Needs organizations, with 63% of the rich group giving to organizations that provide food and shelter and the basic necessities for human survival. Donations for religious causes came in second (50%), followed by education (45%), the environment (42%) and health (40%).

The Age Spread

Age also impacted how many groups benefit from their donations. For example, donors over 70 were more likely to spread out donations to 11 different organizations, baby boomers gave to an average of seven and donors age 50 and younger gave to five, on average. The total average of all age groups was eight different organizations.

Political Giving 

Politics was a good cause for the well-heeled set: One out of four (24%) wealthy donors gave financially to a political candidate, campaign or committee last year or said they plan to do so during the 2016 election season. The most generous of this category were donors over the age of 70 (40%) and LGBT individuals (38%), who were more likely to give to a political candidate or campaign. If you were to compare benefactors by political party: Democrats (36%) were more likely to give than Republicans (22%). By ideology: Liberals (43%) were more likely to vote with their dollars and give donations than conservatives (24%) and moderates (17%).

The main reasons those with deep pockets reported they decided to buoy a candidate or campaign with their dollars was to exercise their voice (56%); help the outcome of elections (49%; this category was owned by men more than women and donors over the age of 50); and because they believe the candidate can make a difference (46%).

Those who held back their donations did so because they reportedly felt their political contributions would have little to no impact when compared to corporate contributions (47%) and contributions from Political Action Committees (PACs) (26%). About a third (31%) believed their contributions wouldn’t make a difference, and more than a quarter (26%) didn’t have a particular candidate they would endorse (26%).

Creating a Positive Impact on Society

When asked what they believe has the greatest potential for positive impact on society, wealthy donors cited charitable giving (45%) and volunteering (31%) above all else. And many believe the giving is more effective if it comes from the masses. Twice as many wealthy donors believe that smaller donations from many donors have a greater likelihood of changing the world than do larger donations from the wealthiest Americans (35% compared to 18%); however, most respondents are unsure which will have a greater impact (47%), according to the study.

When giving to charity, it’s important to be careful with sharing your personal information. One way you can do this is to keep an eye on your credit scores, because any changes can tip you off if someone has stolen your personal information in the process. You can pull copies of your credit reports for free each year at and view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on

Image: ViewApart

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