BWF Client Advisory — July 19, 2017

Ultra high net worth donors and their gifts are becoming more prevalent and increasingly important to organizations. On June 27, 2017, Wealth-X published the UHNWI Analysis: The World Ultra Wealth Report 2017. This report reaffirmed that gifts just keep getting bigger. The top 50 US donors in 2016 gave $5.6 billion.

The report features data and trends on individuals around the world who have a net worth of at least $30 million (US dollars). Labeled “Ultra High Net Worth” individuals (UHNW), they number nearly 230,000—up 3.5% from last year—with an average individual net worth of over $120 million. Nearly 2,400 have over $1 billion each. In 2016 the total net worth of this group reached over $27 trillion, up 1.5% from 2015.

The United States tops the list of countries with the most UHNW individuals, with 73,110. The US UHNW individuals own $8.7 trillion, nearly one-third of the total owned by this world-elite group. Between 2015 and 2016, their numbers rose by 6.7%, and their wealth increased by 6.0%.

Here is a more detailed profile of the how the wealth is distributed among the UHNW population:

What does this suggest for fundraisers?

  1. Don’t overlook Asia.Asia is becoming an increasing large pocket of wealth, with nearly 15% of the population of UHNW individuals, up from 10.5% the previous year. Many of these individuals have connections with the US through education. Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania are among the top 5 alma maters of Asian-Pacific ultra-wealthy individuals. The world is getting smaller, and connecting with these individuals as donors is not only possible but necessary.
  2. Capitalize on UHNW individuals’ demonstrated interests.Philanthropy has long been a focus of wealthy individuals, as recent strategies such as Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge encouraging billionaires to give away at least half of their wealth have pushed mega philanthropy into the spotlight. Or Jeff Bezos who brought a new approach by asking twitter for philanthropic advice. The Wealth-X report found 36% of UHNW individuals listed philanthropy as a top interest. It is time to discover and tap into the interest of UHNW individuals who align with your organization.
  3. Plan for Women’s Wealth.Don’t discount the 11% of ultra-wealthy individuals who are women. Creating a plan now for UHNW women will be especially important as this number will undoubtedly grow. A 2009 study from Boston College’s Center on Wealth Philanthropy found that US women are expected to inherit 70% of $41 trillion in inter-generational wealth transfer over the next 40 years. Don’t wait 40 years to make a philanthropic plan that will focus on women; start planning now.
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