Giving in Puerto Rico Tops Mainland Rates

Households in Puerto Rico are giving to charity at a greater rate than mainland counterparts despite economic turmoil in the territory.

Nearly three-quarters, 74.9 percent, of Puerto Rican households reported making charitable donations in 2014 as compared to the rate of 55.8 percent among mainland households in 2013.

The statistics come from Giving in Puerto Rico, a study conducted in collaboration between Flamboyan Foundation, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Kinesis Foundation. Information was gathered from 847 geographically representative households in 2015.

Seven out of 10 Puerto Rican households give informally and the majority, 67 percent, stated that they knew little about philanthropy or nonprofits. Just one-third of respondents could name as many as three nonprofit organizations and 75 percent were unaware of changes made to the tax code that provide benefits to charitable giving.

The data contradicts previous findings that the amount given to charity is tied to knowledge about philanthropy. “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,” said Una Osili, Ph.D, director of research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The average amount donated per household in 2014 was $285. High net worth households, those with annual income of at least $150,000 or net assets of at least $1 million, donated an average of $1,171;
  • The top five reasons cited for giving were giving back to the community, giving spontaneously in response to a specific need, giving because of a belief that the gift can make a difference, giving because of a desire to set an example for future generations and giving when asked to make a donation;
  • Basic needs, religion and health were the top three areas to receive donations in 2014. Respondents identified education, healthcare and the economy as the top social-issue priorities; and,
  • Over half, 53 percent, of respondents prefer to donate to organizations in Puerto Rico that handle local issues.

“The findings offer the first scientific base for giving in Puerto Rican households,” said Guiomar García Guerra, Ph.D., executive director of Flamboyan. “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.”