A response to the Giving Pledge announcement

The Giving Pledge is the most high profile public campaign promoting philanthropy among the wealthy. A unique, international survey of high net worth individuals has been conducted by the Institute for Philanthropy which reveals the attitudes of philanthropists to the Giving Pledge.

The majority of respondents (68.4%) estimate that they will give up to 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes. Of the 26.3% of respondents who estimated that they will give at least 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes less than half (four of ten) have signed up to the Giving Pledge or adopted its principles.  Two people (5%) did not respond to this question. 18.42% estimate they will give between 51-75% of wealth; 7.9% estimate they will give over 76% of wealth.  Furthermore, the majority have already decided the way in which they will carry out their giving (in their lifetimes, or through a vehicle after their death, for example).

David Sainsbury, one of the new Giving Pledge signatories announced today, explains his motivations for philanthropy: “A number of years ago my wife, Susie, and I decided that spending any more money on ourselves or our family would not add anything to our happiness, but that using it to support social progress was something that we both found deeply fulfilling. We, therefore, decided to transfer gradually most of our wealth to our charitable trusts, and looking back that has turned out to be a very life-enhancing decision.”

The motive for the four philanthropists who completed the survey and who have signed up to the Giving Pledge or have adopted principles is “Wish to devote the majority of wealth to good causes”, not “Wish to encourage other people to become more involved in philanthropy” or “Belief that wealth is a burden on future generations”.

Interestingly, our results indicate that the number of philanthropists who have already made the decision to commit the majority of their wealth to good causes is potentially much greater than the Giving Pledge campaign implies.

This could be due to a low level of knowledge of the Pledge among philanthropists (just over half of the respondents had heard of the Giving Pledge and knew what it consisted of (55.2%) and of those who have not heard of the Giving Pledge, half are in the UK (four people) and half in North America (three from the US and one from Canada)).

There are however other factors beyond a lack of knowledge: our survey found that the most common consideration behind not signing the Pledge or adopting principles is a desire to remain private. The second most popular consideration was a wish to pass wealth to future generations.

NOTES:

  • Respondents came from seven different countries, the UK (39.5%) and US (36.8%) were the most common geographies, however we also had respondents from Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Finland and Italy.
  • The average annual giving of respondents is $1,532,941 (result possibly skewed by two donors who are giving away very large sums of money). One third of respondents are giving away at least $1m annually.
  • Of those who have signed up or have adopted the principles of the Giving Pledge, these people are giving away at least $1m philanthropically a year
  • The timeframe in which giving will take place is fairly mixed: 26.3% said the majority of giving would be carried out during the philanthropists lifetime, 31.5% said that there would be a vehicle for philanthropy after their death, and 29% said that they had not decided yet.
  • The majority of respondents reported they believed that the Giving Pledge would result in an increase in philanthropic money (71%).
  • Many respondents expressed the belief that the role of philanthropy was not just to “throw money at problems”; rather it should be well-researched, thought through and strategically deployed for impact. As one donor said of the Giving Pledge: “money shouldn’t be the only thing acknowledged”.
  • The survey was distributed throughout an influential network of philanthropists, many of whom have graduated from The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) programme which educates major donors in the skills of strategic philanthropy.
  • 38 people responded to the survey

www.instituteforphilanthropy.org

For more information please contact:

Daisy Wakefield,

daisy@instituteforphilanthropy.org

+44 (0) 207 2400626

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