Individuals gave nearly $282 billion of the total $390 billion awarded to charities last year. The lion’s share was from high net worth individuals, an estimated 91% of whom donate an average of more than $25,000 a piece to charity each year. But these wealthy donors have sharp contrasts: Boomers, gen-Xers, and millennials are all prioritizing how they give a little differently.
Because nonprofits are so dependent on these wealthy donors for their continued operation, it might behoove them to know what they’re thinking. A recent report about the values and giving practices of high and ultra-high net worth adults–people with at least $1 million in liquid financial assets–by U.S. Trust, Bank of America’s private wealth management group, provides some answers.
A separate analysis found that business owners–compared to, say, traditional executives or those who’ve inherited wealth–already see themselves as providing a socially good service because they’ve created jobs and are contributing to the economy. (In fact, 73% of these owners see businesses, not philanthropy, as the most effective engine for increasing America’s prosperity; the estimated power of startups and small companies is larger than the might of large corporate or global operations.) Therein lies some unique opportunity to spur different kinds of generous action.
The report is based on a survey of 808 high and ultra high (with more than $100 million) net worth individuals who also have at least $3 million in investable assets. The results show that business owners are far more likely to leverage their cash in a way that creates more jobs or opportunities for others, potentially by investing in “positive impact” companies, compared to non-business owners who appear more geared toward making direct contributions or volunteering. (For job creation, that rate is 43% versus 7%; for positive impact investing it’s 31% to 15%, respectively. When it comes to the likelihood of contributing and volunteering, that flip-flops to 46% versus 78% when considering contributing to charity, and 45% to 58% in regards to volunteering.)