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Millionaires gave average of $68,580 to charity in 2013

Millionaires were more generous with their charitable giving last year. But their giving didn't grow as fast as their incomes.

According to a new study from U.S. Trust, which surveyed 632 households with $1 million or more in investable assets and/or an income of $200,000 or more, the average dollar amount given to charity by wealthy donors rose 28 percent, from $53,519 in 2011 to $68,580 in 2013.

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Yet average giving as a percentage of household income fell by one percent, as increases in income levels slightly outpaced increases in giving levels, according to the study.

There's a strong connection between volunteerism and charitable giving. Wealthy donors who volunteered gave 73 percent more than those who didn't.
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There's a strong connection between volunteerism and charitable giving. Wealthy donors who volunteered gave 73 percent more than those who didn't.

"This year's study, more than ever, tells us that when wealthy donors are intentional about and engaged in their giving—when they find that meaningful intersection between their ideas and ideals—they give more, are more impactful and more personally fulfilled," said Claire Costello, national philanthropic practice executive for U.S. Trust.

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Fully 85 percent of those surveyed plan to give as much or more in the next three to five years than they have in the past.

Among the other findings:

  • Volunteers give more. There is a strong connection between volunteerism and giving levels. Wealthy donors who volunteered in 2013 gave 73 percent more on average than those who did not volunteer.
  • Education is a favorite cause. Eighty-five percent of wealthy donors gave to education in 2013, making it the charitable subsector supported by the largest percentage of high net worth households.
  • There's a desire to make a difference. When asked why they give, most said because their "gift can make a difference" (74 percent), followed by personal satisfaction (73 percent), supporting the same causes annually (66 percent), giving back to the community (63 percent), and serving on a nonprofit organization's board or volunteering for a nonprofit (62 percent). Only one-third of donors cited tax advantages among their chief motivators for giving.
  • A note for charities: When asked why they stopped giving to a charity, the top reason cited was that they received "too frequent solicitation or the nonprofit organization asked for an inappropriate amount."

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