How much $$ did you donate to charity in 2010?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills

How much $$ did you donate to charity in 2010?

Less than $500 (including nothing)
82
22%
Less than $1,000
31
8%
Less than $1,000
31
8%
Less than $2,000
47
13%
Less than $2,000
47
13%
Less than $5,000
48
13%
Less than $5,000
48
13%
Less than $20,000
21
6%
Less than $50,000
12
3%
$50,000 or more
9
2%
 
Total votes: 376

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livesoft
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How much $$ did you donate to charity in 2010?

Post by livesoft »

I was working on the taxes this weekend and wondered about cash donations to non-profits/charities. I'm sure folks here are very generous with their time and volunteering, but how about actual dollar amounts?

So an ANONYMOUS poll.

You don't need comment at all, but I would be grateful to have you vote. And I am not interested in percentage of AGI or income, nor am I interested in stuff you gave to Goodwill, but I am interested in actual cash contributions for 2010 that could go on a Schedule A if you itemize (or not, if you don't itemize). If you gave securities (stocks) to a charity that could be converted to cash easily, then include that in your total.

Thanks!
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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sscritic
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Post by sscritic »

I am trying bunching for this year, so what I normally would give in December, I gave in January of this year. Then I will give again in December. If it works, I will take a break in 2012 and continue to give only in odd numbered years.
JDCPAEsq
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Post by JDCPAEsq »

Your poll needs revision. If I gave $10 I can still check "less than $50,000".
John
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livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

We are going to try to bunch into 2012, but I think it's practically impossible to not have some donations throughout the year, especially to friends, family, and colleagues running for the cure, riding for the cure, swimming for the cure, etc. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
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livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

JDCPAEsq wrote:Your poll needs revision. If I gave $10 I can still check "less than $50,000".
John
Sure, go right ahead.
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gkaplan
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Post by gkaplan »

Zero. My take home pay is around $555.00.
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Opponent Process
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Post by Opponent Process »

this poll is biased towards the living.
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Post by Sidney »

do we include donations of appreciated securities?
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
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Post by livesoft »

^ Sure, you should include the value of those securities. Charities generally sell them within one day of getting them and create cash.

So you can include anything that the charity converts to cash as long as you have a good legitimate estimate of the cash value. I'm thinking if you donated a clunker valued at $5,000 then that is probably not a legitimate estimate of its cash value.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

More than the one who suffers from foot in mouth disease and I make substantially less. :roll:
Blue Moon, anyone? :lol:
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pjstack
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Post by pjstack »

This is the first year in a long time that I've given nothing and I feel a little guilty about it.

But, as the old saying goes, "Charity begins at home", and I have been paying down my mortgage. With luck and good fortune I should have it paid up before the year is up.
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nwrolla
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Post by nwrolla »

I would say near five thousand between my wife and I. We try to make 10% monthly contributions to our church. Outside of that we do not donate much
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Post by White Coat Investor »

Kind of depressing to compare this poll to the net worth polls we do on here. 3/4 of Bogleheads (about half of which are millionaires) give less than $5K a year? Surprised I guess. I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.
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Post by exigent »

I agree with EmergDoc. I'm surprised and disappointed at the low median given recent responses to the net worth poll.
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Post by tim1999 »

$50 to the local volunteer fire department. Some used shirts and pants to a local thrift shop run by a charity. That's it.
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Rob5TCP
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Post by Rob5TCP »

I try to give 5% of my income and in good years do manage that. In down years closer to 2%.

Some Bogleheads maybe millionaires including their SEP/Roth/401K, but have middle/upper middle incomes. While $1,000 is probably low, 10K would be quite high in relation to their regular income.
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Post by sscritic »

Does the fact that my father gives large amounts to charity that would otherwise come to me as my inheritance count? :)
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Post by natureexplorer »

For the purposes of this poll, should CA state income taxes be considered a charitable contribution? I believe they are deductible on Schedule A.
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livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

From our friends at the IRS, http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/08inreturnsbul.pdf Table E, page 9:

In 2008, there were 39.25 million tax returns that claimed charitable donations on Schedule A out of 48.2 million tax returns that itemized on Schedule A out of 142.5 million individual tax returns filed.

The 39.25 million returns listed $179.2 million in charitable donation deductions of which $40.4 million was "other than cash contributions", but that could be donated stock (though unlikely all of it was). If we assume the $179.2 million was all cash, then the average charitable donation deduction was $179.2 / 39.25 or less than $4600.

That's right, for folks who itemized in 2008 on Schedule A, the average deduction for charitable donations was less than $4600. This is consistent with the current results of this poll.
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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ »

I got a huge bonus last year, and I gave 15% of it to charity...

This year, I got a small bonus, and I gave 15% of it to charity... which wasn't very much...

And yes, I feel guilty...

(It was only 4 years ago that I started giving ANYTHING to charity, so I'm still new at this - in my head, I always figured I'd give tons when I was older and retired, but I know that's a cop-out)
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Post by jebmke »

sscritic wrote:I am trying bunching for this year, so what I normally would give in December, I gave in January of this year. Then I will give again in December. If it works, I will take a break in 2012 and continue to give only in odd numbered years.
Bunching is easy with a Charitable Gift account. During my last year of full time work, when my AGI was higher than it is now, I bunched 10 years in a Charitable Gift Trust account. I will probably bunch some more when I finally get around to converting some IRA dollars to ROTH.
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Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

EmergDoc wrote:Kind of depressing to compare this poll to the net worth polls we do on here. 3/4 of Bogleheads (about half of which are millionaires) give less than $5K a year? Surprised I guess. I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.
Mama says charity begins in the home - took that right from The Millionaire Next Door. Perhaps when my net worth increases to the point that the constant threat of job loss, the forced extraction of pension benefits, reduction in compensation, expensive medical treatments not covered by insurance or ridiculous local property taxation (compound annual increases of 6%+) no longer have an affect on me, I can then increase my monetary philanthropy. I did not include my time in answering this poll, of which equals or exceeds the value deducted on Sch. A.

I also give a fair bit of financial support to family members who are less fortunate - for that I don't claim any deduction nor ask for one - the pot is limited in size and scope.

Whatever it's worth, I've been contributing to charity well before I ever itemized (think, teenage years) and thus, the value of those contributions were never duly counted in IRS tabulations.

I'd be curious to see what the results are for those who have net worths in excess of $5MM. Charitable donations as a % of income in my mind don't have much value since most jobs including my own can be taken away in a flash, whereas most folks with large asset bases are not usually losing it all. Unless of course, they invested with the good guy, Madoff!
Last edited by Grt2bOutdoors on Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by scrabbler1 »

Remember that some of us donate our time more than our money, as the OP pointed out. As an early retiree, I do volunteer work at several area schools. I also help out my co-op board every year with their elections. The monetary value of items such as gasoline and wear and tear on my car is small (although with gas prices rising it ain't as low as it used to be) but it is the value of of the servies I provide to those I help which is not easily if at all quantifiable.
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Post by Opponent Process »

EmergDoc wrote:Kind of depressing to compare this poll to the net worth polls we do on here. 3/4 of Bogleheads (about half of which are millionaires) give less than $5K a year? Surprised I guess. I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.
like I said only living people can respond to this poll. if we could see what the millionaire Bogleheads will pass on upon death I think it would be substantial.

also (and I apologize for the abrasive example but:) does society get more benefit out of individuals' supporting the sustainable growth of economies through stock ownership or through giving some poor folks some malaria meds just so they can die from something else a year later?
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Post by nokkieny »

I am not a greedy person, and when I am not strapped for money to keep my business above water I will start donating.. But, the way I see it, as much as I pay in taxes I am basically dolling thousands of dollars to charity for all the social programs.
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Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

rrosenkoetter wrote:I got a huge bonus last year, and I gave 15% of it to charity...

This year, I got a small bonus, and I gave 15% of it to charity... which wasn't very much...

And yes, I feel guilty...

(It was only 4 years ago that I started giving ANYTHING to charity, so I'm still new at this - in my head, I always figured I'd give tons when I was older and retired, but I know that's a cop-out)
Don't feel guilty, at least you made the effort to give. I know of folks and colleagues who would gladly spend $2.50+ on a cup of joe, but pass a true homeless person (you know who they are) by in the street with said coffee in hand on a frigid day without as giving even a cursory glance, much less a dollar for a cup of hot something or other.
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Post by BachemFan »

EmergDoc wrote:Kind of depressing to compare this poll to the net worth polls we do on here. 3/4 of Bogleheads (about half of which are millionaires) give less than $5K a year? Surprised I guess. I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.

I had the same reaction.
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Post by exoilman »

If I support needy individuals, does that qualify for poll? Or do you mean institutions?

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Post by White Coat Investor »

GRT2BOUTDOORS wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:I got a huge bonus last year, and I gave 15% of it to charity...

This year, I got a small bonus, and I gave 15% of it to charity... which wasn't very much...

And yes, I feel guilty...

(It was only 4 years ago that I started giving ANYTHING to charity, so I'm still new at this - in my head, I always figured I'd give tons when I was older and retired, but I know that's a cop-out)
Don't feel guilty, at least you made the effort to give. I know of folks and colleagues who would gladly spend $2.50+ on a cup of joe, but pass a true homeless person (you know who they are) by in the street with said coffee in hand on a frigid day without as giving even a cursory glance, much less a dollar for a cup of hot something or other.
I pass said homeless people too despite donating large amounts to their care. It is much better to support programs rather than panhandlers. Here's a shelter in my city:

http://www.rescuesaltlake.org/

There's a free clinic across the street I have volunteered at and send patients to all the time. A much better use of money than meth and booze.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

EmergDoc wrote:
GRT2BOUTDOORS wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:I got a huge bonus last year, and I gave 15% of it to charity...

This year, I got a small bonus, and I gave 15% of it to charity... which wasn't very much...

And yes, I feel guilty...

(It was only 4 years ago that I started giving ANYTHING to charity, so I'm still new at this - in my head, I always figured I'd give tons when I was older and retired, but I know that's a cop-out)
Don't feel guilty, at least you made the effort to give. I know of folks and colleagues who would gladly spend $2.50+ on a cup of joe, but pass a true homeless person (you know who they are) by in the street with said coffee in hand on a frigid day without as giving even a cursory glance, much less a dollar for a cup of hot something or other.
I pass said homeless people too despite donating large amounts to their care. It is much better to support programs rather than panhandlers. Here's a shelter in my city:

http://www.rescuesaltlake.org/

There's a free clinic across the street I have volunteered at and send patients to all the time. A much better use of money than meth and booze.
Just to clarify, I meant walking by a homeless person who is begging for food or drink outside of a coffee cart (we have many of those in NYC), one who regularly splurges $2.50+ at a fru-fru coffee bar (we have many of those too :roll: ) and don't even think of buying the guy a cup of java, tea or hot chocolate - no booze, no methadone or crystal.

Though, I know what you mean, I offered a homeless guy a spare banana I had on me, he just said no, asked for money, I said don't have it, he muttered to himself and kept asking other people "got any change", "got any change" - later on I saw him holding a bottle of Wild Irish Rose. The banana would have been the better choice of snack.
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Post by likegarden »

You should have a selection for helping family, such as unemployed persons with children, and that can be $20k/year. I did not participate in the poll.
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Post by letsgobobby »

nokkieny wrote:I am not a greedy person, and when I am not strapped for money to keep my business above water I will start donating.. But, the way I see it, as much as I pay in taxes I am basically dolling thousands of dollars to charity for all the social programs.
your first explanation was a good one. Your second explanation belies your real intentions.
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Post by Sheepdog »

I give my fair share in dollara and volunteering. In regards to Panhandlers, I sometimes give them change, but not often. (My wife gets mad at me when I do. I probably always would if I could.) However,I have approached a few asking for "meal money" in an area within a block or so of a fast food restaurant that I would buy them a meal, but not give cash. On about a half dozen cases which I have offered this, about half took me up on it. I took them to the fast food place, and had them order, I paid for it and left. The other half only wanted the money. They didn't get it..
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Post by grberry »

Several commentators are deploring the to date poll results here versus net worth polls. This is the wrong comparison to make. Comparisons should be made to income polls, as most people here are in the accumulation phase of their life.

Charitable contributions are generally made either 1) out of income in the accumulation phase or 2) out of excess net worth in the consumption phase. Most of us are in the accumulation phase.
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Post by bottlecap »

BachemFan wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:Kind of depressing to compare this poll to the net worth polls we do on here. 3/4 of Bogleheads (about half of which are millionaires) give less than $5K a year? Surprised I guess. I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.

I had the same reaction.
Although it's easy to judge, we don't know the personal situations of people answering the pole. Nor do we know that the same people answering this poll are the same people answering the income poll. In addition, as someone mentioned above, it doesn't account for volunteering, which many people do, and is arguably better than giving substantial sums to professional charity organizations with large overheads. Finally, we don't know how many people simply lied about both polls.

Although I give to charity and also volunteer, I sure don't look down on those who don't. It's their money. I don't give so that I can look down on those that don't. It bothers me that with polls like this invariably someone always laments that everyone else isn't giving enough.

JT
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Post by letsgobobby »

jebmke wrote:
sscritic wrote:I am trying bunching for this year, so what I normally would give in December, I gave in January of this year. Then I will give again in December. If it works, I will take a break in 2012 and continue to give only in odd numbered years.
Bunching is easy with a Charitable Gift account. During my last year of full time work, when my AGI was higher than it is now, I bunched 10 years in a Charitable Gift Trust account. I will probably bunch some more when I finally get around to converting some IRA dollars to ROTH.
I did this in 2010 - donated enough to offset my Roth IRA conversions, by bunching a couple of years. I ended up getting hit with a bit of AMT but it was still a tax-saver in the long run.
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Post by MWCA »

nwrolla wrote:I would say near five thousand between my wife and I. We try to make 10% monthly contributions to our church. Outside of that we do not donate much
Isnt Church like a club? So not really charity is it?
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Post by 3CT_Paddler »

MWCA wrote:
nwrolla wrote:I would say near five thousand between my wife and I. We try to make 10% monthly contributions to our church. Outside of that we do not donate much
Isnt Church like a club? So not really charity is it?
Isn't the Boy Scouts like a club? Would you consider a donation to that organization giving to charity? I think for the sake of this poll, if the IRS considers it a charitable donation, it qualifies as giving to charity.

PS A lot of churches do charitable works for the community from that giving.
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Post by livesoft »

Thanks to all who answered the poll. I'm surprised so many voted in one day.

My conclusion is that folks here are unremarkable in charitable giving: They give at about the same amounts as the general population. They are neither more generous nor less generous with their cash donations.
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Post by Sheepdog »

PS A lot of churches do charitable works for the community from that giving.
Absolutely.
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Post by exoilman »

Livesoft,

With all due respect, your conclusion is as reliable as your poll. NOT!

regards
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Post by cosmic »

Zero. Since I compound my wealth at fairly high rates, it is massively value destructive to give away any money until I retire or die. Every person I help today, means 10 or 100 people will not be helped in future.
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Post by Imperabo »

EmergDoc wrote: I honestly thought $10K would be the average, not $1K.

Many of us would have to up our "number" or fudge our SWR if we took out $10K/year.
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Post by Opponent Process »

GRT2BOUTDOORS wrote:Perhaps when my net worth increases to the point that the constant threat of XYZ no longer have an affect on me, I can then increase my monetary philanthropy.
I also tend to use fear as a reason to not contribute more, especially since my family is dirt poor. but then I think, do I really want to live that way? just running out the clock while living a guarded life with my hoard of guineas under the floorboards? and I'm also reminded of this verse:

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
~ Luke 6:38 NKJV ~

and then I tell myself, if I contribute more maybe it'll force me to be more focused on my job performance, discretionary spending, etc...more disciplined, more confident. maybe that's part of the return. but it's something I struggle with.
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Post by Imperabo »

JDCPAEsq wrote:Your poll needs revision. If I gave $10 I can still check "less than $50,000".
John
Livesoft is a programmer. He wrote it as a switch statement. The breaks are implied.
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Post by gabylon »

Opponent Process wrote:... through giving some poor folks some malaria meds just so they can die from something else a year later?
Forgive me, but I have to ask. Are you sure you meant to say this? Just so they can live for another year?
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Post by pastafarian »

cosmic wrote:Zero. Since I compound my wealth at fairly high rates, it is massively value destructive to give away any money until I retire or die. Every person I help today, means 10 or 100 people will not be helped in future.
ROFLMAO :lol: That was funny! At least I hope you were being funny.
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Post by thehammer »

nokkieny wrote:I am not a greedy person, and when I am not strapped for money to keep my business above water I will start donating.. But, the way I see it, as much as I pay in taxes I am basically dolling thousands of dollars to charity for all the social programs.
Exceptionally stupid statement since the vast majority of the budget goes to Defense Spending and benefits for old people (medicare, medicaid, Social Security)
So unless you think you're not going to hit 65 or that you don't need to pay for defense....
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Post by lexota »

I've found great enjoyment and satisfaction by giving a lot of money to worthy charities that mean something personally to us.
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Post by exigent »

livesoft wrote:Thanks to all who answered the poll. I'm surprised so many voted in one day.

My conclusion is that folks here are unremarkable in charitable giving: They give at about the same amounts as the general population. They are neither more generous nor less generous with their cash donations.
Actually, based on the numbers that you ran above, it looks like people here are much stingier than the average of $4600. I realize that was a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but still... 30% gave $500 or less? Wow. I'd say that's remarkable, but in the wrong direction.

Of course, some of the difference could be due to mean vs. median differences. We can get a rough idea of the median from the poll above, but not the mean (since the top category is open-ended).

P.S. Given the presumably large range of incomes present here on the forum, it would be interesting to see a similar poll, but broken down by percentages of income vs. dollar amounts.
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