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December 11, 2014 07:55 ET

BMO Giving Survey: Many Affluent Americans Will Donate and Spend More During 2014 Holiday Season Than in Past Years

- High-net-worth Americans will give an average of $12,394 to charities in 2014, with holiday season donations accounting for more than one quarter (29 percent) of annual giving

- Forty-three percent will spend more this holiday season than they did in years prior to the 2008 recession, paying an average of $10,525 for gifts and holiday-related expenses

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwired - Dec. 11, 2014) - Many affluent Americans plan to boost their holiday donations and spending this year, according to the results of a study released today by BMO Private Bank. The study is part of BMO Private Bank's second annual Changing Face of Wealth series, which examines trends among individuals with at least $1 million in investible assets.

"A substantial portion of high-net-worth Americans are increasing their donations of both time and money to charitable causes this holiday season," said BMO Private Bank President Darrel Hackett. "It's gratifying to see that, while many are also spending more on gifts for loved ones and other holiday-related costs, giving back still remains a top priority."

Philanthropy continues to play an important role this holiday season, with survey results revealing that:

  • On average, high-net-worth Americans will give $3,631 to charities this holiday season, with 28 percent donating more than in 2013, six percent giving less and the rest donating about the same amount.
  • Thirty-two percent will attend charity or fundraising events this holiday season.
  • Seventy-one percent will make cash donations, 68 percent will give clothes, 51 percent will donate household goods and 49 percent will give canned food or gift baskets.
  • Forty-three percent will volunteer.

The study also found that affluent Americans plan to spend an average of $10,525 on gifts, travel and entertainment during the holidays. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated they intend to spend more than they did in years before the 2008 recession, and just 9 percent indicate they are still planning to spend less.

Other key findings indicated that, for holiday expenditures, the affluent:

  • Will spend an average of $4,459 on gifts and $3,385 traveling to visit loved ones or taking holiday trips.
  • Plan to buy gifts for an average of 16 people, with 42 percent reporting plans to buy gifts for 10 or more people.
  • Will spend at least $100 per person on their gift list: just over one quarter (27 percent) report plans to spend $100 to $199, 12 percent plan to spend $200 to $299, eight percent are likely to spend $300 to $499, eight percent plan to spend $500 to $999 and six percent reported plans to spend $1,000 or more on each of the lucky people on their gift list.
  • Vary along gender lines with reigning in their wallets: 49 percent of men are spending more this year than in pre-recession years, compared to just 31 percent of women.

Notably, high-net-worth millennials (ages 18 to 39) stood out as the demographic with the highest proportion of members planning to increase spending on gifts this year - as well as the group with the longest shopping lists. Three quarters of millennial respondents indicated they will spend more this holiday season than last, and 23 percent will be shopping for more than 20 people.

"It's important to look at the bigger picture when making holiday spending plans," said Mr. Hackett. "While gifts seem like the obvious place to spend money during the holidays, travel, entertainment or other events such as hosting guests should be considered, too. It's smart to maintain a budget appropriate to your income level - no matter what that level is."

Breakdown by State:

Average amount
to be donated
this year ($)
Average amount
to be donated
this holiday
season ($)
Average amount
to be spent
this holiday
season ($)
Average amount
to be spent
this holiday
season
on gifts ($)
Arizona 6,259 6,259 4,254 1,196
Illinois 7,516 1,887 4,913 2,928
Florida 7,141 2,107 9,714 3,498
Indiana 12,469 4,875 5,514 3,428
Virginia 8,855 2,585 4,292 1,598
Washington 9,673 2,844 6,806 3,180
Wisconsin 6,922 1,675 3,679 1,206
Missouri 4,349 1,235 2,596 1,657
Minnesota 7,075 2,943 3,580 2,090
Other 13,945 4.058 12,101 5,222

Survey results cited here are from online interviews with a sample of 493 Americans 18 years of age and older who have at least $1 million in investible assets. Surveys were conducted between October 15 and October 28, 2014.

About BMO Private Bank, a part of BMO Financial Group

BMO Private Bank offers a comprehensive range of wealth management services that include investment advisory, trust, banking and financial planning to meet the financial needs of high-net-worth clients. Through integrated teams of experienced financial professionals, BMO Private Bank helps its clients realize their financial and lifestyle goals with solutions that are custom tailored and delivered with the highest level of personalized service.

BMO Private Bank is a brand name used in the United States by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. Not all products and services are available in every state and/or location.

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