Generosity is Growing, Not Diminishing

I've lived long enough to see a pattern. Each generation worries about succeeding generations and the loss of its own. Every time an elder donor passes away or a generous corporation leaves, their beneficiaries see an irreplaceable loss; a hole in the budget; a reason to ask how we can instill the values of giving in the younger generations and newer companies.

Yet, giving in the aggregate increases annually. Endowments including family foundations, community foundations and national gift funds are booming.

What's happening? Two things. First, elderly donors are endowing their philanthropy. They are making legacy gifts by bequest or planned giving to their churches, alma maters, family foundations and community foundations. We are simply not losing their generosity altogether.

Second, the younger generations seem to have gained a greater sense of philanthropy than we have given them credit for. Many inheritors of wealth are turning into great givers. And, there is a boom in new wealth creation due to a vibrant world economy. Many entrepreneurs seem to be using their wealth for social good.

Charities in decline are spending too much time obsessing over the loss of key donors and have become rudderless. They are looking in their rear view mirrors while successful charities are looking purposefully and creatively toward the future. They are engaging younger donors and asking older ones to endow their support. These up and comers in the rear view mirror are closer to claiming the leadership roles in our communities than they may appear.

Robert Thalhimer

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jun 04, 2007 in High Net Worth Donors | Permalink | Comment