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.