New Study Released – Next-Generation Philanthropy: Changing the World

Forbes Insights has released the findings of a new study, “Next Generation Philanthropy: Changing the World,” sponsored by Credit Suisse Group, as part of the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.

This past summer, in an unprecedented gathering of wealth and international philanthropy, Forbes brought together 150 billionaires and near-billionaires, including keynote speakers Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey, for a private discussion of ways to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. The peer exchange, which focused on greater collaboration, sharing of best practices and upfront education, helped advance the conversation around philanthropy on a global level.

The gathering may also lead to fundamental shifts in how the world’s most influential philanthropists carry out their charitable efforts.

Key themes included:

  • These billionaire philanthropists, in contrast to previous generations, expect to see the results of their philanthropy in their lifetime and have less interest in leaving a legacy.
  • An increasing number of them are willing to partner, with people like themselves, with corporations or with the recipients to ensure greater effectiveness.
  • They are willing to be venture-like in their giving, viewing the philanthropic investments as risk capital. Moreover, they are willing to take risks, fail and learn from the experience in order to be more effective over time.
  • They plan on giving their money away over a short time frame – more than half of respondents at the summit have set a time horizon of less than 10 years to see a return on their philanthropic investments.

Following the summit, the Forbes Insights study was launched to better understand how high net worth individuals across the globe pursue their philanthropic goals. Among the findings the study revealed:

  • Giving is alive and well. 54% of all respondents say they will leave more than 25% of their assets to charity. Nearly half (46%) of those with more than $20 million in investable assets plan to leave half or more of their assets to charity; nearly 1 in 5 of those with over $50 million in investable assets plan to leave 100% of their assets to charity.
  • 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 $20 million level.
  • 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 $50 million or more have established a philanthropic entity. The majority would like to see this entity be continued by their descendants.
  • Today’s philanthropists are creating the base for the next generation of philanthropists. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents believe they are setting an important example for future generations, and 42% have developed a succession plan for future generations.
  • Measuring philanthropic impact is a work in progress. With nearly half of respondents (44%) having a time horizon of less than ten years to see a return on their philanthropic investments, new ways to track projects are necessary.
  • 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.

The study 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 $4.9 million or less; 34% of the respondents had net investable assets of $5 million to $19.9 million; and the remaining respondents reported net investable assets of $20 million or more.

The full results from this summit are featured in the Forbes 400 Philanthropy issue.