The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.I have read about this before that the poor give more as a percentage of their income than the rich, but it always surprises me. Why would this be the case?
The article lays out many plausible reasons, but I would like to add two more.
But before I do so, I think it should be noted that while the poor give more as a percentage of income, in terms of total amount given, they give much less, with the lowest income group averaging $453 and the highest 20% $3,337. Those in the lowest 20% of income account for 6.5% of all dollars given, while those in the top 20% account for 48%.
One reason that might explain why the poor give more is that it is a collective way to save money. When times are good you help out those around you, and when times are bad they help you out. Banks could be used to accomplish the same thing in an individually, where you would saving your money in good times and then taking it out in bad times.
A second reason that might explain this is that by giving more than their fair share, they make it easier for others to give to them. Those in the lowest 20% of income give on average $453, but the average person gives $1,388. If all donations were evenly distributed to all people (and likely they would skew more towards those of lower income) then for every dollar a poor person gives, they get back 3 times as much or a 200% "return" on giving. A slightly different take on this would be that because they see how much are given they feel like they too should give as much as they can.