A new study of ultra-wealthy families around the world finds that a growing number of those engaged in philanthropy are considering whether it is more effective to set an end date for their initiatives or to continue in perpetuity.
A third of families in the study just published by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Campden Wealth reported that they had adopted a time-limited approach to philanthropy, concentrating their donations over shorter time periods. This approach has grown by nearly two-thirds since the early 2000s, according to the study.
Thirty percent of those who have adopted the approach said they wanted to see their giving’s impact during their lifetime, 23% wanted to narrow their philanthropic focus and 17% wanted to transfer more of the founding donor’s wealth to favored causes sooner than later.
The majority of the families in the study used the more traditional in-perpetuity model for their charitable giving. Seventy-one percent said they wanted to provide sustained and long-term support to address persistent problems, 56% to support the family’s purpose and values, and 41% to have greater impact on beneficiaries over multiple generations.
“As the global economy grows, so does the number of wealthy individuals making philanthropy a key part of their lives,” Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa Berman said in a statement. “This global survey affirms trends that we’ve identified in our work: the desire for deeper personal engagement, more focused giving and a commitment to impact that can be seen and assessed.”
Berman noted that families around the world were actively involved in donor collaboratives, impact investing, media campaigns and public-private partnerships.
“And as donors become more sophisticated in giving and investing, they’re thinking seriously about the time horizon that makes the most sense for the goals, motivations and visions of their own philanthropy,” she said.
The study was based on a survey conducted during the first half of 2019 among 201 private/family philanthropists from 28 countries — 50% from the U.S., 25% from Europe, 20% from Asia/Pacific and 5% from six other countries across the world. In addition, 29 semistructured interviews were conducted with ultra-high-net-worth philanthropists or their senior staff across the globe.
The average net wealth of the families and private philanthropists surveyed stood at $1.2 billion, while the average assets under management of the associated philanthropic organizations was $155 million. Over the last 12 months, the philanthropists gave an average of $12 million each to various causes.
Three-quarters of survey participants said they engaged in philanthropy in order to give back to society, 55% were interested in creating social change, 50% wanted to put values into action and 47% sought to address social inequality.
Eighty-one percent of respondents across all regions reported that the next generation of wealth holders was engaged in their family’s philanthropy in some way.