As the years of America's lagging economy drag on, one thing has remained fairly constant: Americans, overall, give about 3% of their income to charity. What has changed, however, is the relative proportion of giving amongst America's upper and lower classes. A new report based on IRS data shows that between the years of 2006 through 2012, richer Americans (those making over $200,000 per year) gave 4.6% LESS to charity, while their less affluent counterparts (those making less than $100,000 per year) gave 4.5% MORE.
The implication here is that as times get tough, the affluent tend to cling to their wealth, while the less affluent reach out to meet the needs of others.
There is something about identifying with the needs of others that seems to enhance our capacity to not just feel their pain, but our desire to assuage it. This was certainly the example of the Macedonian believers who, as the Apostle Paul said, "welled up in rich generosity" and gave "even beyond their ability."
"And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us" (2 Corinthians 8:1-6).