When it comes to charitable donations, lower-income people are willing to part with a much bigger chunk of their discretionary income than big earners are, a study finds. Households that bring in $50,000 to $75,000 a year give 7.6% of their post-tax and post-living expenses income, on average, while households earning $200,000 or more donate just 4%. Religious giving factored into the findings, says an analyst who helped compile philanthropic data across the US. "States like Utah and Alabama and Mississippi all end up very high on our list," he tells NPR.
"And states where (there's) more of a secular mindset, particularly in New England and all along the coast, tended to show up lower on the list." Another factor, however, appears to be donors' exposure to people who are struggling. In one poverty-stricken area of Washington, DC, the median donation for locals is 19% of discretionary income; even clients of an area aid group donate a dollar here and there when possible. What's more, people with large incomes who live near people with far lower incomes tend to give more than wealthy folks in wealthy areas. One key to expanding giving, then: Get low-income families' stories heard in rich neighborhoods, experts say. (Read more wealth stories.)