Virginia Hodgkinson used to be the vice president of research for the Independent Sector
, based in Washington. She says that the lowest-income fifth of the population gives beyond their capacity, the next two-fifths at their capacity and those in the highest fifths are capable of giving two to three times what they give to the less fortunate.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey
of consumer expenditure she's right on the money. The poorest households in the United States gave on average 4.3 percent of their income while the richest fifth gave just 2.1 percent of their income.
That figure doesn't add in the amount of money spent home by both legal and illegal immigrants to the United States.
The middle fifth income levels gave away less than 3 percent of their income to charity.
A report, Patterns of Household Charitable Giving
by Income Groups, 2005 published by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University also supports the idea that the poor give more than the rich. Households that had less than $200,000 in income gave a third of their income to charity while those making over that amount gave less than a third.
Take the case of Tanya Davis. The 40-year-old is struggling after being laid off from her security guard position and still gives $5 to $10 a week to others that need a hand up. She is surviving on $754 a month.
"I believe that the more I give, the more I receive, and that God loves a cheerful giver," Davis said. "Plus I've been in their position, and someday I might be again."
Perhaps Herbert Smith, 31, is correct about why the poor give more than the rich Truthout reported. When one is poor they aren't scared of poverty as much as the rich are.
The poorest are more likely to be students, minorities, women and newcomers to the US. The poorest of the US are also more often on welfare, drive used cars or rely on public transportation, be more religious, rent not own and be older than those in the highest income populations.