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Research Roundup: High Net Worth Philanthropy and the 2019 Giving Forecast

Two reports released in the fall of 2018 provide encouraging news and strategic insights for fundraisers.

First, the 2018 edition of Gallup's annual The World's Most Generous Countries Report found that nearly 1.4 billion people globally donated money to a charity in 2017. Almost 1 billion had volunteered their time to an organization in the past month.

Second, the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that average giving by high net worth households in the U.S. grew by 15 percent, on average, between 2015 and 2017. The study identifies a number of trends that provide valuable direction for advancement professionals in the U.S. Chief among these are the growing influence of women philanthropists. Women, according to the study, are both more likely to give to charity and to volunteer than men. They are motivated by a belief that philanthropy is the most efficient way to solve societal problems.

The emergence of the millennial generation (ages 21-36) as the largest adult population cohort in the U.S. is also changing the philanthropic landscape. Millennials are significantly more diverse than older generations. They're less likely to give then older generations, but more than twice as likely to participate in impact investing. The report suggests that early engagement with younger donors and developing an understanding of their preferences and behaviors will be critical to future fundraising efforts.

Other findings point toward continued opportunities for charities. In a period in which confidence in the public sector and federal government are in decline, high net worth donors identified charitable giving and volunteering as the two most important ways of making a positive impact on society, ahead of voting for political candidates who share one's ideas or making political contributions. Education and health care were identified as the top social and policy issues.

Belief in an organization's mission and the confidence that their gifts will make a difference are the top factors driving charitable decisions. Donors look to charities to provide information on the impact of their gifts.

While stewardship communications are vital, the study indicates, a barrage of solicitations may be counterproductive. More than forty percent of wealthy donors cited too many or too frequent financial requests as a reason for discontinuing donations to previously supported charities.

Ultimately, despite changes in U.S. Tax Law, 84 percent of wealthy donors indicated that they planned to maintain their giving levels; 4 percent plan to increase their giving.

This article is from the January 2019 BriefCASE issue.

Member Profile: Charles Diab

Charles Diab is the executive director, advancement and alumni affairs at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Charles Diab is the executive director, advancement and alumni affairs at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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