The 2010 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, offers new insights into the philanthropy of wealthy donors. Conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, this study reflects the attitudes and behaviours of more than 800 respondents throughout the United States with household income greater than $200,000 and/or net worth (excluding the value of their residence) of at least $1,000,000. The average wealth of respondents was $10.7 million. Half of those who responded had a net worth between $3 million and $20 million.
Selected Findings from the Study:
Despite a strong commitment to nonprofits in 2009, average charitable giving by high net worth households decreased between 2007 and 2009. Average charitable giving dropped 34.9% from $83,034 in 2007 to $54,016 in 2009, after adjusting for inflation. This drop in giving had the largest impact on health organizations.
Largest Gifts: more than 55% of high net worth households gave their largest gift in 2009 to fund the general operations at nonprofit organizations. Significantly fewer households made their largest gift to support the growth of an organization (24%), for capital campaigns (14%) and for the long-term needs of the organization (11%) compared to 2007.
Disaster Relief: giving to disaster relief, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis, or other events, is an area in which wealthy households do not make trade-offs. The majority of wealthy households (83%) sometimes or usually make a donation in response to disasters. When households made a donation, more than 92% gave to disaster relief in addition to their regular charitable giving.
Why Wealthy Donors Donate: when asked about the motivation behind their charitable behaviour, high net worth households reported that they gave when they believed their gift would make a difference (72%), when they felt financially secure (71%), when they knew the organization was efficient in its use of donations (71&), and to support the same causes or organizations annually (66%).