[ECAR 2006] Arthur C. Brooks on Sustaining Philanthropy


Arthur Brooks is a Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University.

In the United States people give about $260 billion per year to charity – 75% of American households give money each year. The average American family gives way more than in other countries – which is not due to changes in income or tax codes.

When you look at charitable giving as a percent of income, you find that the bottom quintile give far more of their income away to charity than the top quintile. Working poor families give more, both in time and money, than non-working poor families.

Robert Putnam survey – amazing link between giving and income. There are parts of charitable giving that push income. There is tangible evidence that a family that gives away $1 gets back $3.75 in income, on average. There is a “virtuous cycle of causation” between earning and giving, mutually reinforcing each other.

The evidence suggests that the United States gets a 19-1 earnings on the charitable dollar. This suggests that giving is a deeply patriotic act.

Research also finds that giving makes people happier and healthier, and builds stronger communities.

The bottom line of what the data tells us is that charity makes you happy, healthy, and rich.

Contrary to popular wisdom, the data suggest that large leadership gifts do not lead to multiple smaller gifts – that would suggest that if there’s a part of the university that’s receiving a lot of thousand-dollar gifts we shouldn’t toss a $30 million gift in that pool.

Great quote:
“We want to release people from their resources, to their abundant benefit.”

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