News and analysis
June 20, 2014

Wealthy Say Volunteering, Not Money, Is Best Way to Help the Poor

Nine in 10 wealthy Americans say they want to help close the income gap between the rich and the poor, according to a new study released today. But only 39 percent say donating money to charities that provide education and employment programs is the way to help the disadvantaged.

Wealthy individuals put more stock in volunteering as a way to help the poor: Forty-eight percent said giving their time and talents to programs that aid the disadvantaged would help create a more level economy. Even more of the survey’s respondents, 53 percent, think the way to create income equality is through job creation by starting or growing businesses, or by promoting business ownership and laws that reduce regulations and taxes for entrepreneurs.

The survey found that women are taking a more active role in wealth planning and decision-making, and many have their own fortunes: Fifty-two percent of women in the study came into their marriages or relationships with financial holdings equal to or larger than those of their partners, something for fundraisers to keep in mind when cultivating gifts from wealthy couples.

The nationwide survey, conducted by U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, polled 680 Americans with investable assets of $3-million or more.

Among other findings:

  • One-third of women are the primary income earners or contribute equally to the wealth of their households.
  • Three quarters of wealthy millennials (adults under age 35) consider the social and environmental impact of companies they invest in.
  • Nearly 80 percent of well-off millennials believe socially conscious investing can help hold businesses and governments accountable for their actions.

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.