Major Findings from the 2016 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

In October, US Trust in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released the 2016 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. This report gives us insights into high net worth (HNW) donors’ giving and volunteering activities, motivators, behaviors, and priorities. The survey results are based on 1,435 US households that have a net worth of $1,000,000 or more, excluding the value of their primary residence, and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more.

High net worth individuals and families are more likely to give and volunteer.

91 percent of HNW households donate to charity (compared to 59 percent of the general population) and 50 percent of HNW individuals volunteer (compared with 25 percent of the general population). Wealthy individuals who volunteered in 2015 gave 56 percent more on average than those who did not volunteer. 84 percent of HNW individuals gave financially to at least one of the organizations with whom they volunteered.

High net worth individuals and families are primarily motivated by the mission of the organization.

54 percent of HNW donors are motivated by the mission of the organization, 44 percent are motivated because they believe their gift can make a difference, and 39 percent are motivated by personal satisfaction, enjoyment, and fulfillment. Only 18 percent of HNW donors indicated that they gave because of tax benefits in 2015, which is a significant reduction from 34 percent in 2013.

High net worth individuals and families understand the importance of unrestricted giving.

In 2015, 74 percent of donors indicated that their largest gift was unrestricted. While 39 percent of donors believe that restricted giving is more effective because it is more targeted, 31 percent feel that restricted gifts limit the ability of organizations to make appropriate budget allocations. Additionally, 89 percent of donors indicated it is important that the organization demonstrate sound business and operational practices.

High net worth individuals and families are not seeking out impact information on their gifts.

78 percent of HNW donors do not personally monitor or evaluate the impact of their charitable giving. But while HNW individuals are not seeking out this information, they certainly consider it important, as 37 percent of HNW donors indicate that monitoring giving to ensure it has its intended impact is one of their top challenges when it comes to charitable giving.

Engaging high net worth individuals and families.

Engaging High Net Worth Individuals and Families

Engaging High Net Worth Individuals and Families

  1. Continue to make the case for unrestricted gifts. At the end of the day, many of these HNW donors’ largest contributions to your organization will be restricted. However, the data shows that, while donors appreciate the direction that comes with restricted gifts, they also understand the importance of unrestricted giving, so long as they have confidence in the business practices of the organization. Make sure that your gift officers are well versed in the importance of unrestricted gifts and make it a part of every conversation with donors.
  2. Use good reporting and good stewardship as cultivation techniques. The US Trust survey tells us that while donors are not seeking out impact information on gifts, they consider it a challenge when it comes to charitable giving. 21 percent of HNW donors cited lack of communication on effectiveness as a reason why they have stopped supporting a particular organization. Producing and delivering quality information on the impact of a gift in lieu of a follow-up solicitation or a piece of direct mail will likely yield more dollars for your organization down the road.
  3. Identify meaningful volunteer opportunities for your HNW donors. HNW donors that are able to volunteer with an organization not only have a better understanding of your organization’s mission and work—they give more! Make sure that your organization is providing a range of volunteer opportunities for your donors.

Bentz Whaley Flessner’s consultants understand the complexities of identifying and developing strategy for high net worth donors. Contact us today. Together, we transform philanthropy.

Share This