Givers get strategic

December 15, 2008
 Wealthy people are getting more advice from hired professionals and less from peers and not-for-profit personnel when making decisions about charitable giving, a new study shows.

Accountants were a leading source of advice for 43.2 percent of respondents, according to preliminary results of the study, which was conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Nearly 42 percent looked to attorneys and 32.6 percent named wealth managers.

The figures total more than 100 percent because some respondents gave more than one answer.

Times have changed. A nearly identical survey undertaken two years earlier by the center found that 41.2 percent of respondents looked to not-for-profit personnel, and 36.9 percent to peers.

The most recent survey was conducted last summer. "The economy started to tighten," said Patrick Rooney, the center's interim executive director and research director. "People were thinking more, 'I'm giving these gifts. Let's be strategic about it.'"

Another factor driving wealthy people to professionals, Rooney said, might be that they felt unable to make major gifts, so instead wanted to plan for bequests after their death.

The study also touched on reasons wealthy people stop supporting certain organizations.

Nearly four in 10 donors stopped supporting a charitable group in 2007. Their reasons: "no longer feeling connected to the organization," (57.7 percent); "deciding to support other causes," (51.3 percent); and "feeling they were being solicited too often," (42.3 percent).

The study is called the 2008 Bank of America Study of High-Net-Worth Philanthropy. It focused on households with incomes greater than $200,000 or net worth of at least $1 million. The opinions were gleaned from 700 respondents through sur veys of more than 20,000 households in wealthy U.S. neighborhoods.
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