IU Center on Philanthropy and Donors and Philanthropic Research and Philanthropy

Self-made wealthy among most generous

November 24, 2008
"Self-made" millionaires make more $1 million-plus donations than business executives, celebrities or those who inherit their wealth, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found in a recent study.

The center examined its "Million Dollar List," a database of more than 4,840 charitable gifts worth $1 million or more, on behalf of New York-based CCS, an organization that helps not-for-profits raise money. Researchers examined gifts made between January 2000 and September 2007.

Highlights of the findings:

The self-made wealthy gave 42 percent of all dollars and accounted for 33 percent of all gifts.

Business executives gave 10 percent of all dollars and 28 percent of all gifts.

Heirs gave 10 percent of all dollars and 10 percent of gifts.

Salaried professionals, such as lawyers, gave 2 percent of the dollars and 9 percent of all gifts.

People earning "creative fees," such as pro athletes and actors, accounted for 1 percent of the dollars and 4 percent of gifts.

The center also noted that the self-made wealthy tend to give to organizations that don't typically receive $1 million-plus donations. William Hanrahan, chief executive of CCS, said donors tend to have business experience and expectations about how their money will be used.

"These nonprofits need to consider donors as partners or investors — not just funders — and should take that opportunity to engage and involve them accordingly."

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