One in Five of the Super-Wealthy are Giving It All Away


October 15, 2012

Giving to charity by the world’s wealthiest is a trend that is alive and well, according to a study by Forbes Insights and Credit Suisse. Some 54% of all respondents to a survey the report authors conducted said they will leave more than 25% of their assets to charity.


Nearly half (46%) of those with more than USD 20 million in investable assets plan to leave half or more of their assets to charity; nearly 1 in 5 of those with over USD 50 million in investable assets plan to leave 100% of their assets to charity.


The study entitled, “Next Generation Philanthropy: Changing the World,” was sponsored by Credit Suisse Group, as part of the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. It surveyed 264 high net worth individuals across the globe, including the U.S., China, Japan, India and the UK.


Forty-six percent of the respondents had net investable assets of USD 4.9 million or less; 34% of the respondents had net investable assets of USD5 million to USD 19.9 million; and the remaining respondents reported net investable assets of  USD 20 million or more.

Key findings
A Business-Like Approach to Giving. 53% of all respondents agree with the statement “I find applying my business experience to my philanthropy is an effective and successful approach to giving.” This rises to 61% among those who are at the more than USD20 million level. More of them partner with businesses (40%) for their philanthropic endeavors than with government agencies (22%) or other non-profits (28%).


Taxes, U.S. Elections and Giving. Most (56%) feel that tax policy impacts their charitable giving. 64% believe the elections will impact tax policies, while 50% believe the elections will impact the climate for philanthropy.


Motivation to give comes from the heart. 70% of respondents in the survey say that they are driven by personal values, while 36% say faith, 35% a sense of obligation or duty, 32% family legacy and 31% a desire to add value to society at large.


Among the top areas for philanthropists that respondents say they consider are the organizational structure of giving, collaborations, vehicles of funding, measuring success and passing on the torch to the next generation.


Family foundations are more important as asset levels grow. Fifty nine percent of those with investable assets of USD 50 million or more have established a philanthropic entity. The majority would like to see this entity be continued by their descendants.


Social media takes hold as part of a philanthropic strategy, but is not a substitute for personal time and commitment. Facebook (37%), Twitter (24%) and YouTube (23%) were the top three social media platforms utilized by survey respondents. All of Forbes Insights’ interviewees, however, indicated social media could only highlight a cause. Seeing a project through to the end requires a significant amount of time and commitment, in addition to publicity. (Image source: Forbes Insight)


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