Poor Give More

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice Ideas and Issues International

Ocean Springs The poor are more generous that the rich, and in fact the poorer you are, the more likely a larger portion of your income is given to others. For the poor experience drives empathy and action. For the rich it turns out that talk is in fact cheap.

Quoting from Frank Greve of the McClatchy chain in an article recently entitled, “America’s Poor are its Most Generous Givers,”

“The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity,” said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. “The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give.”

That’s an elegantly generous way of putting it, I guess? Greve also quotes the brutal facts from the BLS indicating that the poorest of our citizens are in fact twice as generous as the top strata of the rich.

“Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.”

In all likelihood this doesn’t come near to counting remittances sent home by migrant workers and immigrant families to their families and relatives in their home country which adds up to billions more per year.

It seems the only way in which the rich outstrip the poor is in public relations. Even though fewer are giving and they are giving the least, buildings are named after them, banquets held in their honor, plaques engraves, and gushing thank you notes sent. Furthermore, they lobby for more tax deductions so that their generosity (when given) also returns more benefits to them. Some are still obnoxiously quoted on those issues as saying they know better than the government and others how to express their charity.

Meanwhile even with their last dollar, poor extend a helping hand for their brothers and sisters. In collecting membership dues to support building organizations among the poor in American and around the world, outsiders and donors are often skeptical when they learn that the poor still make it a priority to support their own organizations.

Just more evidence that we should not be surprised.