..poorest 20-percent of Americans give 3.2% of their income to charity, while the wealthiest 20-percent give only 1.2% to needy causes.
Let’s talk about being poor for a second.
POOR PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO GO HUNGRY
As a result, they give. They never forget what it’s like to not have money or food.
My mother is a great example of this.
She grew up dirt poor, and as a result, money means very little to her when she has a lot of it because she has this need to give it all away or spend it in fear that she will die the next day not having lived a good life because of hoarding money (she’s the other extreme of those frugalites.)
Anyway, since she grew up poor, my mother gives money to everyone and anyone she feels needs it.
Sometimes I have to gently try and rein her in because she doesn’t understand that she still needs to save money for herself, and not put herself in a position of living paycheque to paycheque.
She gives money away like it’s going out of style to her brothers and sisters, and you can’t tell her to stop.
If she won the lottery, I’ll bet you she’d give away at least 25% of it to various people, if not more.
(She also blames her former poverty as the reason why she’s about 15 pounds overweight. She can’t stop eating, apparently!)
..BUT LET’S NOT FORGET SOME BASIC MATH HERE
I don’t have all the statistics and actual net dollar values from each 20% income set (who knows, maybe the final net dollar value of poor folks outstrips the rich ones), but let’s not forget some basic math here.
Wikipedia (U.S. census) says that the top 20% of Americans are the ones earning $96,000 and up:
- 1.2% of $96,000 = $1152
- 1.2% of $167,000 = $2004
- 1.2% of $650,000 = $7800
- 1.2% of $1,000,000 = $12,000
TOTAL GIVEN FROM 4 HYPOTHETICAL RICH FOLKS = $22,956
Wikipedia also says that the bottom 20% of Americans are the ones earning $0 – $18,500:
Assuming a base rate of $5000 because 3.2% of $0 is $0…
- 3.2% of $5000 = $160
- 3.2% of $10,000 = $320
- 3.2% of $15,000 = $480
- 3.2% of $18,500 = $592
TOTAL GIVEN FROM 4 HYPOTHETICAL POOR FOLKS = $1552
Coincidentally, that total number of 4 poor folks giving 3.2% of their income is the equivalent of ONE person earning $96,000 giving 1.2% of their income a year.
Someone earning $96,000 at the lowest rung of the higher income set, donates about 7.2X more as a net dollar value that someone earning $5000 in the lowest rung of the lower income set.
..and someone at the highest rung of the higher income set earning $1,000,000 donates the equivalent of about 20 people in the highest rung of the lower income set.
SO LET’S BE CAREFUL NOT TO PITCHFORK THE GENEROUS RICH FOLKS
I absolutely, 100% acknowledge that $160 may be more than what most people (never mind poor folks!) give to charity each year, so I totally, TOTALLY get that it is not a small amount of money for someone earning $5000 to fork over $160 to charity.
(Actually let’s just all acknowledge that giving money to charity rocks, no matter in what amount.)
..but I just want everyone to be careful before demonizing rich folks and making them feel bad for “ONLY giving 1.2% of their income to charity each year“.
Sure, they could DEFINITELY afford to give more (couldn’t we all?), but let’s not look the gift horse in the mouth and make them feel awful about it.
I’d rather just have them give, and encourage others in their circle to give.
In fact, I am even happier if they make more income and give more money as a percentage.
Everything is relative when you use percentages.
1.2% does not equal 1.2% as a final net dollar value at the end of the day, because it’s dependent on what income you use, so it stands to reason that the higher you go up in income, the more piddly the percentage looks in comparison.