When we think of charity, we automatically conjure up some imagery of a wealthy eighteenth century man tossing a coin to his less fortunate counterpart. Well, perhaps only the more imaginarily extravagant of us think like that. In any case, the definition of charity is ‘generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless’. That would suggest that those who are not poor, ill, or helpless would be doing the giving, but a recent survey has negated these beliefs.
The study conducted reveals that Briton’s with an annual income below £5,000 give an average of almost 4.5% to good causes, but the proportion seems to fall as the income increases. People earning £40,000 or more donate just over 2% to charity. While £800 is more compared to £225, it still means the poorest element of our society is giving more to good causes in terms of percentage of annual income. These numbers have killed the idea that charity is a vehicle for the rich to give to the poor.
What They Mean
Surely people on a low income are no more generous than anyone else? Perhaps not, but some experts speculate that the wealthy may be less generous as the motivation to accumulate personal wealth does not lend itself to generosity. In a series of surveys, people of low income were much more generous with limited funds than their upper class counterparts. However, when the wealthy participants were shown videos on child poverty they were more willing to help the cause. This could mean that exposure to need fuels generosity which in turn means that wealthier areas that are insulated against poverty will donate much less than the wealthy areas who witness poverty close to home.
Which Causes Benefit
While it is irrefutable that the upper classes give less of their total income to charity, the causes that they do choose to support are generally related to education or the arts. While donating to colleges and universities is generous, it may not actually benefit the most needy, suggests the study ‘The Widow’s Might: How Charities Depend On The Poor’. This also seems to suggest that people donate to the causes closest to their class. Education and wealth go together like steak and chips, whereas the poor donate to charities related to alleviating poverty most likely due to the fact they’ve experienced it at some point.
Which Sex Donates More
This fascinating study has also revealed that the same pattern applies to both male and female donors, and contrary to popular assumption, all but the poorest men give a larger proportion of their income to charity than women. Although they may give a smaller share of their wealth, women are still more likely to donate to charity than men.
Religion also seems to effect generosity, with most donators on a lower income describing themselves as religious. However, religious people in the middle classes give significantly more than people who are not particularly religious. No matter what area of British life you look at, it is clear that the poorest are continuously giving more, a sobering and inspiring thought.
It would be thought that education would have a big impact on the people who choose to donate. To start very basic, school fundrasing ideas are all around us while in education so the opportunities are much more pleantiful. However aswell as this, it appears that a more educated background does not necissarily mean a more generous person comes from a highly educated background.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=342379
Author – Nikki has been writing articles for many different industry sectors over the past few years with great success throughout.