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The Community Foundation Blog

Trends that inform what your clients are thinking even if they aren't saying it
By The Community Foundation / October 25, 2021
Trends that inform what your clients are thinking even if they aren't saying it

Hot off the press, the 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households confirms that wealthy families are as committed as ever to the nonprofit sector and community causes. Of the 1,626 households surveyed with annual income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1 million (not counting a primary residence), 88% gave to at least one charity in 2020. Indeed, average giving by this demographic grew to $43,195 from $29,269--a 48% increase--between 2017 and 2020. 

The motivations and preferences behind that giving are also changing. Here’s how: 

  • For the first time, affluent donors care as much about supporting the issues (44%) as they care about supporting the nonprofit organizations themselves (45%). In the past, most affluent donors have put far more weight on the organization when considering charitable giving options.
  • The issues themselves are shifting, too. For example, more than 20% of affluent households supported social and racial justice causes, and impact investing nearly doubled, during the period covered by the study. The Community Foundation has been studying both issues carefully, with new giving vehicles to support these interests among donors. We welcome a discussion about how your client may want to get involved.
  • Diverse donors and younger donors are beginning to prefer structured giving vehicles, such as donor-advised funds, over direct giving to operating charities. The Community Foundation is proud to serve increasingly diverse donors, including through our partnership with four giving circles that appeal to a variety of demographic affinity groups.
  • Affluent volunteers give twice as much as affluent people who don’t volunteer. One of the unique offerings of the Community Foundation in Richmond is its commitment to civic engagement, providing opportunities for individuals to get involved with their time and voice through a range of offerings from civic learning and corporate social responsibility training to done-in-a-day projects and skills-based volunteerism with local nonprofits. Learn more here
  • Affluent philanthropists are becoming more vocal about the challenges they face when making charitable giving decisions, notably:

    Figuring out what causes they care about and where to make donations to support those causes (40%)

    Figuring out a charitable giving budget and how much they can afford to give (32%)

    Figuring out how to measure the results of their giving to be sure it’s making a difference (24%)

    This is where the Community Foundation is well positioned to help you offer your clients the full scope of advisory services. Our team of philanthropic advisors is dedicated to helping donors craft a personalized giving plan to identify and support what they care about in the most meaningful and impactful way.

What most affluent households are not worried about, however, according to the study, are potential changes to the income tax rules. Indeed, 78% say their giving levels would stay the same or even increase if they could not deduct contributions. 

If we can assist you or your clients in this busy giving season, please contact Brandon Butterworth at or 804-409-5646.

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