Bigger paychecks don’t necessarily lead to greater generosity, according to new data that shows Connecticut’s lowest-income residents donate the largest portion of their income to charity.
Individuals in Connecticut who made $25,000 or less gave 5.5 percent of their income to charities in 2012 — the greatest share donated by any income group in the state — according to figures compiled in an interactive chart by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
For the most part, the more money people in the state made, the smaller share they donated.
In deriving the figures, the chronicle took into account residents’ adjusted gross income and analyzed information provided in tax returns where itemized charitable deductions were listed. The data was compiled as part of the Chronicle’s “How America Gives” project.
Among those with annual incomes of up to $25,000, the average adjusted gross income was $14,860 in 2012 and the average charitable contribution was $1,260, data showed. In all, that subset of the population gave a total of about $42.2 million to charities.
While it wasn’t the highest dollar amount contribution, that represented the largest share of donors’ income at 5.5 percent.
It’s not unusual for people who earn lower incomes to be more generous with it than their wealthier counterparts, said Maggie Gunther Osborn, president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.
“I think it has always been true that people in the lower income brackets have been the most generous in terms of percentage of income,” she said. “A great deal of this, I believe, has to do with empathy and being close to people in need that moves their generosity.”
The trend holds up nationally as well, she said, with lower-income people typically earmarking more funds for charitable contributions than others.
Individuals account for the vast majority of contributions in Connecticut, donating about 73 percent of all gifts in 2012, she said. Foundation giving and bequests make up the remainder.
After those earning up to $25,000, the next-highest income bracket – those who grossed between $25,000 and $50,000 — gave 3 percent of their income to charity, the Chronicle of Philanthropy found. With an average income of $38,478, they made an average contribution of $1,594, the data show. In all, the group gave $118.3 million.
Residents making between $50,000 and $75,000 gave just over 2 percent of it to charity, with an average income of $62,461 and an average contribution of $1,754. The group gave a total of $181.9 million to charities in 2012.
Those who made between $75,000 and $100,000 gave 1.9 percent of it to charity. This group’s income averaged $87,145 and the average donation was $2,013. They gave a total of $202.4 million.
One more rung up the income ladder, people who made $100,000 to $200,000 donated 1.7 percent of it. With an average income of $137,661, they made an average contribution of $2,610 and collectively gave a total of about $542 million.
Generally, those who made more money gave a smaller share of it to charity, but the one group to buck that trend was that of individuals who made more than $200,000. In 2012, this group gave 2.6 percent of their income to charity — a larger share than those making anything between $50,000 and $200,000, but still not as large a share as those making $25,000 and less.
Their share may not have been the largest but their donations, on average, certainly were. People who earned more than $200,000 gave a total of just under $2 billion, with an average donation of $19,666 and an average income of $711,328.
Statewide, when taking into account all donors across all income brackets, individuals gave an average of 2.3 percent of their adjusted gross income, the chronicle found. Contributions made by Connecticut donors neared $3.1 billion and the median contribution was $2,201.
Connecticut’s giving ratio was on par with neighboring states. New Yorkers donated an average of 2.9 percent, Massachusetts residents gave 2.2 percent and Rhode Islanders gave 2.1 percent, the data showed.
In all three of those neighboring states, residents who earned incomes of $25,000 or less in 2012 gave the greatest share to charity.
In addition to looking at tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service, The Chronicle of Philanthropy also analyzed Census data that gave some insight into donors’ demographics.
In Connecticut, the data show donors were more likely to have Democratic political leanings. Also, 71 percent of donors were white, while 13 percent were Hispanic or Latino and 10 percent were black.
The age group most likely to give was 45 to 64 year olds; they accounted for 28 percent of charitable givers, but were followed closely by those age 25 to 44 (25 percent) and those under 18 (23 percent).
When it came to religion, the largest share of donors — 35 percent — were Catholic, followed by Presbyterian at about 3 percent.