Most Americans say donating to charity is important to them, but only one in four (25%) contribute consistently throughout the year: RBC Wealth Management & City National Bank poll



MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 12, 2016) – While eight in ten (82%) Americans say charitable giving is important to them, most don’t donate consistently throughout the year, according to a recent survey from RBC Wealth Management-U.S. and City National Bank.

The survey, conducted in mid-September, found that nearly half (47%) of Americans say they donate to charity sporadically, without any specific times in mind, rather than at a planned interval or for a seasonal occasion.

“One of the most rewarding things a person can do is to give back,” said Michael Armstrong, CEO of RBC Wealth Management – U.S. “We are members of a greater global community and we have a responsibility to take the necessary steps today that will have a positive impact on tomorrow.”

In addition to personal satisfaction, there are several tax benefits to charitable giving. Those benefits can often be maximized when individuals approach their giving in a purposeful way, say experts at RBC Wealth Management-U.S.

“A well-planned program of lifetime gifts to family, friends and charities can provide income and estate tax benefits and help preserve more assets for heirs,” said Van Pate, Wealth Strategies Consultant at RBC Wealth Management – U.S. “Taking a deliberate approach to giving can help you make well-informed decisions and increase the benefits to both you and the recipients of your good will.”

And rather than support just a few causes, the majority of Americans prefer to spread their goodwill around, with 53% giving to three or more charities – including (10%) who typically donate to 6-10 charities, and 4% who say they will typically support 11 charities or more.

Millennials are by far the most likely to donate to just one (24%) or two (28%) charities, while older Americans are the most likely to give to multiple causes. In fact, six in ten (59%) Americans aged 55+ give to at least 3 charities, including 7% who give to 10 or more.

“When donating, we have the option of giving all our donations to a single charity, or smaller amounts to multiple charities,” said Malia Haskins, Wealth Strategies Consultant at RBC Wealth Management – U.S. “It’s common to believe that by dividing up our donations to help more charitable causes, we have the greatest impact. But there is a strong argument that, if you’re interested in doing the most good, you should concentrate your giving on one, maybe two organizations.”

There are also regional and gender differences in how Americans give, the survey found.

Women (86%) are more likely to find charitable giving personally important than men (77%). But, men indicate they give more ($1143) on average than women ($722).

“Wealthy people who are ready to fulfill on their charitable intentions often repeat the old saying of, ‘it’s easier to make money than it is to give it away,’” said Michael Pagano, executive vice president of City National’s private client services. “As wealth grows, often too does a desire to give back. To achieve legacy goals, it’s essential to work through decisions and tradeoffs related to structures, taxes, commitments, financial flexibility, and the emotional implications.”

Those in the Midwest ($1111) appear to give more than those living in the South ($908), West ($906) and Northeast ($743). Yet when asked how the total amount they plan to give in 2016 will compare to their charitable giving in 2015, those in the Northeast (20%) were most likely to say their giving would increase, compared with only 17% of those in the South and 15% of those in the West. Only 10% of Midwesterners, meanwhile, said their giving this year would increase.

So what causes are Americans most likely to support? Faced with a dizzying number of worthy causes in need of cash, Americans are most likely to be drawn to charities helping children (32%). Not surprisingly, parents are significantly more likely (40%) to be drawn to children’s charities compared to Americans without kids (28%). Parents are also more likely to be drawn to educational charities than those who are child-free (11% vs. 6%).

Millennials aged 18-34 (38%) and Americans aged 35-54 (33%) are also most likely to be drawn to children’s causes when choosing a charity to donate to, compared to Baby Boomers (25%). Millennials (13%) are also most likely to be drawn to charities supporting education, compared to just 6% of those in Generation X (aged 35-54) and 5% of Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers (22%) are most likely to donate to religious causes, ahead of those in Generation X (17%) and Millennials (11%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of RBC Wealth Management from September 16 to September 19, 2016. For the survey, a sample of n=1,005 American adults was interviewed online via Ipsos’s American online panel. The precision of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a Bayesian credibility interval. In this case, with a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the sample universe of American adults been polled. The margin of error will be larger within sub-groupings of the survey population.

About RBC Wealth Management – U.S.

In the United States, RBC Wealth Management operates as a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Founded in 1909, RBC Capital Markets, LLC. is a member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and other major securities exchanges. RBC Wealth Management has $284 billion in total client assets with 1,800 financial advisors operating in 200 locations in 41 states. For more information about RBC Wealth Management-U.S., visit

About City National Bank

With $42.8 billion in assets, City National Bank provides banking, investment and trust services through 73 offices, including 16 full-service regional centers, in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Nevada, New York City, Nashville and Atlanta. In addition, the company and its investment affiliates manage or administer $58.3 billion in client investment assets.

City National is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC serves more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the United States and 36 other countries.

For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at

Contact info:

Jonell Lundquist, RBC Wealth Management