WealthManagement Magazine

How They Stay Rich

The wealthiest Americans are giving considerably less to charity than they did during the go-go years of the Internet boom. American households with a net worth of $5 million or more (excluding the value of their primary residence) gave 70 percent less to charity in the last three years than they did between 1998 and 2000, according to new Spectrem Group research based on 500 mailed-in responses.

The wealthiest Americans are giving considerably less to charity than they did during the go-go years of the Internet boom.

American households with a net worth of $5 million or more (excluding the value of their primary residence) gave 70 percent less to charity in the last three years than they did between 1998 and 2000, according to new Spectrem Group research based on 500 mailed-in responses. The Chicago-based consulting firm found average charitable contributions per household fell from $600,000 over 1998-2000 to $180,000 for the three years from 2002-2004.

“When the stock market began to crumble in 2000…the wealthy substantially cut back their charitable giving,” says Catherine McBreen, managing director of Spectrem Group. “While the market has regained most of those losses…the only segment that showed any recovery in charitable giving from levels seen in 2000-2002 is households with a net worth of more than $25 million.”

Donations from the $5 million to $10 million set fell 93 percent between the two three-year periods, while those with $10 million to $25 million reduced giving 79 percent, and those with more than $25 million cut back 38 percent.

Charitable Runoff
Charitable contributions broken down by household net worth.
Household Net Worth 1998-2000 2000-2002 2002-2004
All ultra-high-net-worth $600,000 $218,000 $180,000
$5 million - $10 million 575,000 53,000 41,000
$10 million - $25 million 462,000 184,000 96,000
More than $25 million 1.14 million 598,000 710,000
Source: Spectrem
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