Over the last two years, President Barack Obama has reported that between 21% and 25% of the Obama household income was donated to charity. The average American donates about 2% of income, and the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans donate 5 percent. The Obama family gave over $150,000 to non-profits, two-thirds of which went to Fisher House Foundation, which supports services for veterans. These percentages are significant increases in income percentage over previous years; however the amount of income is significantly less after the popularity of Barack Obama’s books in 2009. Other contributions went to Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Clubs and United Negro College Fund.
President Obama’s charitable giving reflects the trend that people born without wealth are significantly more charitable than those who have inherited wealth. Obama was raised by a single mother and grew into a self-made success story. He has written several bestselling books, which is where most of the Obama family wealth has come from.
While most of America’s wealthy favor educational support, Obama’s charitable giving reflects that of someone who knows what it is like to make sacrifices and go without basic needs. It is worth noting that Barack Obama’s charitable donations did not reach such a high percentage of income until after he gained national fame through his books and even more when he became a presidential candidate. However, the current rate of giving is significantly higher than even the wealthiest Americans and exponentially more than the national average of charitable giving.
As the president continues to convey the message that the wealthiest Americans should bear the biggest burden when it comes to paying the deficit, there is no doubt that the large amount of giving will also give him some political capital. In the meantime, the leader of the most powerful nation giving nearly a quarter of his income away to charity does set a good example for citizens at every income level.