One in three households increased their giving to support needs related to the pandemic. Among those who gave, three distinct shifts in giving behaviors emerged:
Supported their local communities
gave to basic needs locally
Made unrestricted giﬅs
or more made unrestricted giﬅs to health care, educational, and arts and culture organizations
Found new ways to give
gave directly to individuals and businesses aﬀected by the pandemic
During 2020, aﬄuent households continued the American commitment to philanthropy in good times and bad. This group’s nearly 90% participation in charitable giving — in the face of adversity — is a hallmark of donors’ generosity.
Background and methodology
This study series has set the benchmark for research on the giving practices of aﬄuent households in the United States. The 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Aﬄuent Households is based on a nationally representative random sample of 1,626 households and includes in-depth analysis based on age, gender, race and sexual identity. The households in the study have a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their primary home) and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more. Average income and wealth levels of the participants in the study exceeded these threshold levels; the average income and wealth levels of study respondents were approximately $523,472 and $31.1 million respectively, with median income and wealth levels of $350,000 and $2 million, respectively. Respondents’ average age was 52.5 years. The survey, conducted in January 2021, reﬂects charitable giving in 2020.
The study captures the philanthropic motivations, priorities and strategies of aﬄuent donors amid a challenging year. In addition, this latest study investigates donors’ contributions to aﬃnity groups, COVID-19 pandemic relief eﬀorts and social/racial justice in 2020. The deeper analysis by age, gender, race and sexual identity provides a more nuanced understanding of aﬄuent donors’ behavior. Subgroup ﬁndings throughout the summary reveal statistically signiﬁcant diﬀerences between the highlighted group and members of the relevant reference group, e.g., younger individuals (age 38 and younger) compared to older individuals (over 38 years of age); women compared to men; Black/African American, Asian American, or Hispanic/Latino individuals compared to White/Caucasian individuals; and LGBTQ+ individuals compared to non-LGBTQ+ individuals.