Thursday, June 23, 2005

Not just for the wealthy

From Philanthropy Magazine:

Most observers now recognize that lifetime giving understandably increases as people move up the economic ladder. For instance, the richest 1.2 percent of American wealth-holders contribute 28 percent of all charitable donations according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP).

But CWP research also suggests that it’s not just the objective size of people’s pocketbooks that matters but also their subjective sense of financial security.

...

A sense of financial security has a strong positive relation to charitable giving. Why? At the least, these findings reflect a growing ability and desire among people who have settled the economic question for themselves and their heirs to discern their discretionary resources and to invest that surplus in socially and spiritually purposive ways. For this reason, a growing and vibrant economy that fulfills the desires for family well-being is an indispensable ally of philanthropy.

Charts not included in the online feature seem to show that people don't just give because they can but because they feel they can. Even with more modest wealth, people give when they feel financially secure. It's not about whether or not you are rich; it's about whether or not you feel rich.

Key to democratizing philanthropy, to making philanthropy a viable option for everyone, then, is a "a growing and vibrant economy." In such an economy, philanthropy is not the exclusive privilege of the rich but the promise held out to anyone who seeks to better the conditions of others.

2 comments:

The Happy said...

Shervish is preaching supply side or trickle down philanthropy. The richer the rich get the better the world will be. He also assumes, and it is a big assumption, that generosity follows after security. In some cases enough is never enough. And in other cases, the poor themselves give sacrificially.

Paul speaks of "The Gospels of Wealth," but it sometimes seems closer to hagiography.

The Happy said...

What you have to appreciate is that Paul is creating the foundation for the case that estate tax can be repealed and the net result will be good for giving and for society. Very dubious reasoning, but the conclusion rings sweetly on the ears of wealth.