Patterns of Giving by the Wealthy

Brief

Patterns of Giving by the Wealthy

Abstract

Almost all wealthy people make charitable gifts during their lives, but most fail to establish a charitable legacy when they die. Those who do give at death, however, usually make gifts that are many times larger than those they made during their last years of life.

Why do most people who give out of their income fail to dedicate anything to charity in their wills? And why do more people with significant wealth not contribute more during life, when giving is more tax efficient?

This study analyzes charitable giving by wealthy people at the time of their death (2007) compared with giving over their last five years of life (2002–06). We examine likely reasons for these giving patterns and their implications: that strengthening appeals focused on using wealth to create a legacy might significantly increase charitable giving.

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