From this McClatchy Newspapers story, writer Frank Greve profiles on such poor giver.
When Jody Richards saw a homeless man begging outside a downtown McDonald's recently, he bought the man a cheeseburger. There's nothing unusual about that, except that Richards is homeless, too, and the 99-cent cheeseburger was an outsized chunk of the $9.50 he'd earned that day from panhandling.
The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.
"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."
Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.
The figures probably undercount remittances by legal and illegal immigrants to family and friends back home, a multibillion-dollar outlay to which the poor contribute disproportionally.
None of the middle fifths of America's households, in contrast, gave away as much as 3 percent of their incomes.
"As a rule, people who have money don't know people in need," saId Tanya Davis, 40, a laid-off security guard and single mother.
Certainly, better-off people aren't hit up by friends and kin as often as Davis said she was, having earned a reputation for generosity while she was working.
Now getting by on $110 a week in unemployment insurance and $314 a month in welfare, Davis still fields two or three appeals a week, she said, and lays out $5 or $10 weekly.
To explain her giving, Davis offered the two reasons most commonly heard in three days of conversations with low-income donors:
"I believe that the more I give, the more I receive, and that God loves a cheerful giver," Davis said. "Plus I've been in their position, and someday I might be again."