Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Self-made 'more likely to donate'

Self-made billionaires are more likely to pledge to donate a large portion of their wealth to charities than those who are heirs to family fortunes, according to new research.

Economists at the University of Southampton examined written testaments of wealthy philanthropists who have signed up to The Giving Pledge, a venture which encourages billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth to charitable causes.

It was launched in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.

The analysis found that the super-rich who had made their own fortunes were more likely to sign the Giving Pledge and that philanthropy is impact-driven with the donors stating what changes they want to achieve and displaying a "business-like approach".

The research team concluded that in order for fundraisers to maximise their effectiveness they should target people with newly-acquired fortunes and to develop a detailed business plan clearly stating the objectives and the means to achieve these.

Researcher Dr Mirco Tonin said: "The written testaments of pledgers give us a fascinating insight into the philanthropic motivations of the extremely rich. They provide a unique window on a relatively small group of people who are key to the promotion of charitable causes."

The study authors, Dr Tonin, Dr Michael Vlassopoulos and Jana Sadeh, performed a textual analysis of the pledgers' letters and classified the expressed motivations for their "giving" into 10 categories.

These included the usual motives that have been associated with pro-social behaviour, such as the desire to make an impact, or the joy one derives from giving.

They also considered additional motives, such as the desire to dispense family wealth so as not to spoil one's heirs, the desire to leave a legacy and provide an example to others, or the sense of moral obligation to share wealth.

Dr Tonin said: "The philanthropic activities of extremely rich individuals, such as, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller and more recently Bill and Melinda Gates, have not only benefited many people and causes, but have also inspired new generations of philanthropists.

"We feel this report gives a valuable insight into the motivations behind the 'giving' behaviour of the very rich, which will prove very useful for charitable organisations and fundraisers."

By May 2014, the Giving Pledge had 127 families from 12 different countries signed up, with the average age of donors being 69.

The oldest pledger is David Rockefeller Sr, aged 99, and the youngest at 30 are co-founders of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.


From Belfast Telegraph