Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Hawaii’s people
give from the heart

Despite a poor economy
and high tax burden, we
shell out big for charities

By Mary Adamski


Despite the state's economic slump, 88 percent of Hawaii households give to charitable organizations, a record of generosity unmatched by mainland residents, according to the Hawaii Community Foundation.

The reasons -- topped by wanting to ease pain and suffering -- make a strong argument against people who claim the aloha spirit is dead or dying.

"Yes, I think that it's a part of our island tradition. It shows our connectedness. I think it's about taking care of each other," said Janis Reischmann, vice president of the foundation, which administers 240 charitable trusts giving up to $10 million in grants annually to nonprofit organizations.


The foundation yesterday released results of a survey on charitable giving conducted by SMS Research in telephone interviews with about 600 householders. The comparisons with the mainland are from a 1996 U.S. government study on "Giving and Volunteering in the United States."

Some 69 percent of mainland households give to charity, with $1,017 the average amount given, according to the national study.

The average local contribution, $1,016, is comparable to the national figure.

Reischmann said the study of 1998 giving patterns showed:

Bullet People who have lived in Hawaii 10 years or more gave 25 percent more than those who have been here 5-10 years.
Bullet More than half of the givers designated local charities for 90 percent of their gifts.
Bullet Hawaii's 18-24 age group gave twice as much as mainland peers.
Bullet About half the givers also volunteer time for charitable causes.

Human service agencies received money from 78 percent of local givers, but the amount the agencies received represented only 31 percent of money given.

Some 43 percent gave to health agencies, but it was only 7 percent of the total contribution pool.

Churchgoers were generous to their own causes. Of all the money given, 41 percent went to religious and spiritual causes. But it was given by only 37 percent of the contributing households.

Reischmann said officials of the foundation were pleasantly surprised. There are a number of factors that would indicate a lower level of giving here, she said, including "the economic slump, the higher tax burden in Hawaii, the number of older residents -- less able to share because of a fixed income -- and also we have a lot of part-time workers."

The message in here for federal and state lawmakers: "There is a public policy question, with government thinking they can cut services and the private sector can pick up the slack," Reischmann said. "Given what we have learned, I'm not sure that is a reasonable expectation."

When the survey respondents were asked their reasons for giving:

Bullet 69 percent said to ease pain and suffering.
Bullet 67 percent said it made them feel good inside.
Bullet 63 percent did it to help a loved one.
Bullet 53 percent said it's a community responsibility.
Bullet 48 percent felt a responsibility to God.
Bullet 42 percent were involved with the organization they supported.

Bullet 27 percent gave to honor a loved one.

Only 10 percent felt the potential tax deduction was a reason.

The survey reflected only identified recipient agencies, and did not factor in all the year's investments in huli-huli chicken and chili tickets and car wash fund-raisers.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin