High-net-worth Washingtonians plan on leaving an average of four percent of their estates to charitable causes in their wills, according to a new study by BMO Private Bank to mark National Philanthropy Day.

Additionally, the study found they plan on donating an average of US$2,553 to charity in 2013.

The study is the third in a series by BMO Private Bank examining trends among high-net worth Americans (those with investible assets of US$1 million or more). The study also found:

  • Eighty percent of wealthy Washingtonians are donating the same (55%) or more (25%) to charity than they did before the onset of the 2008 recession.
  • Most (83%) of the state’s affluent expect to make charitable contributions this year.
  • Their favorite charitable causes to support include local community programs (50%), health programs and disease research (32%), education (30%), and children’s charities (30%).

Peter Glidden, regional president of BMO Private Bank, said: "The vast majority of affluent individuals in Washington are going back to the donating levels they were at before the 2008 recession, and some are even donating more. This reflects very positively on our state and also shows that affluent Washingtonians are feeling confident enough again to put their wealth toward causes they believe in."

Key National Findings:
On a national level, the study found:

  • Affluent Americans plan on leaving, on average, seven percent of their estates to charitable causes in their wills.
  • Almost all (94%) expect to make charitable contributions this year, with an average donation amount of US$8,845.
  • Half (48%) of high-net worth Americans are donating more to charities than they did before the 2008 recession. Forty-one percent reported that they are donating the same amount and only 11% are donating less.
  • Almost half (49%) are giving to religious institutions while 46% are donating to health programs and disease research. Other popular causes include local community programs (36%), children’s charities (31%), the arts (28%) and education programs and animal welfare (27% each).

Claudia Sangster, director, Philanthropic Services, CTC Consulting | Harris myCFO, a part of BMO Financial Group, said: "Rather than giving on an ad-hoc basis, people should consider maximizing the impact of their generosity by working with a financial professional to develop a philanthropic strategy that is part of an overall financial plan. Not only will their giving have a more lasting impact, but it will also enable them to leave a legacy for their family, their community and future generations."