Three out of four households in Puerto Rico, or 74.9 percent, confirmed in a study that they made charitable donations in 2014, a high rate of giving, especially compared to similar data in the U.S., which shows 55.8 percent of mainland U.S. households giving to charity in 2013.
Puerto Rican households donated an average of $285 in 2014; high net worth households donated an average of $1,171. No matter what the specific dollar amount given by any one household, a huge difference could be achieved by individuals taking action for the collective good, according to the first study of its kind to examine charitable giving patterns, priorities, and attitudes of Puerto Rican households.
“Giving in Puerto Rico” is the result of a collaboration between Flamboyán Foundation (Flamboyán), the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and Kinesis Foundation.
The publication was presented Wednesday at the Puerto Rico Convention Center to a group of nonprofit organization leaders, donors, corporate executives, academics, and other individuals committed to philanthropy.
“The findings offer the first scientific base for giving in Puerto Rican households. It confirms what we already know, that we in Puerto Rico are very generous. Giving in Puerto Rico also provides an understanding of giving so we can start thinking about being more effective as philanthropists during this time of great need,” said Guiomar García-Guerra, executive director of Flamboyán.
Flamboyán commissioned the research project to establish baseline information about giving in Puerto Rico that can be benchmarked against data from the mainland U.S., such as from the Philanthropy Panel Study and the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy.
“Now that we have comparative data prepared by experts in the field, as nonprofit leaders we can promote Puerto Rico’s needs in philanthropic circles in the U.S. and internationally,” stated Kristin Ehrgood, co-founder and Flamboyán chairwoman.
Una Osili, director of research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said, “We see an opportunity in Puerto Rico to increase formal giving, since a large part of donations are informal in nature, such as helping a stranger, a neighbor, a friend or relative.”
A large percentage of survey respondents indicated they had limited knowledge about philanthropy and nonprofits. This contrasts with the finding that the more people know about philanthropy, the higher the average amount of money they tend to donate.
The survey also asked what respondents considered the most important issues in society today. Vadim Nikitine, co-founder of Flamboyán and current board member, said, “This study shows a gap between what households identify as pressing issues, and the areas they actually donate to. Our goal is to spur a broad discussion that provokes each and every one of us to question to what we contribute, how we do it and how we can increase our impact.”
Some other key findings of the study were:
- The top five reasons cited for giving were: giving back to the community; giving spontaneously in response to a specific need; giving because you believe that your gift can make a difference; giving because you desire to set an example for future generations; and giving when you are asked to donate.
- The top three areas that received donations in 2014 were: basic needs; religion; and health.
- The top three social issue priorities were: education; health care; and the economy.
- 53 percent of the population prefers to donate to organizations in Puerto Rico that focus on local issues.
- The majority of individuals, 67 percent, say they know very little about philanthropy and nonprofits.
- Only one-third of those interviewed could name three non-profit organizations and 11 percent could not name a single one.
- Seven out of 10 people report giving informally.
- A significant majority, 75 percent, were unaware of major changes made to the Puerto Rico tax code that impact the potential tax benefits of charitable giving.