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"I'm Not Rockefeller": 33 High Net Worth Philanthropists Discuss Their Approach to Giving 

"I'm Not Rockefeller": 33 High Net Worth Philanthropists Discuss Their Approach to Giving 

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From September 2007 to April 2008, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy conducted a series of structured interviews to determine how high net worth individual philanthropists (defined by the Center as having the capacity to give $1 million per year) make decisions about giving. What we found were a set of diverse and evolving practices, a predominant reliance on peers for information, a narrow and negative view of evaluation (despite a strong desire to make a difference), and difficulty with exiting established relationships with nonprofits, perhaps because the transaction costs of “breaking up” seem too high. To our surprise, we also found that nearly a third of the study participants do not think of themselves as “philanthropists,” despite giving an average of nearly $1 million annually.
From September 2007 to April 2008, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy conducted a series of structured interviews to determine how high net worth individual philanthropists (defined by the Center as having the capacity to give $1 million per year) make decisions about giving. What we found were a set of diverse and evolving practices, a predominant reliance on peers for information, a narrow and negative view of evaluation (despite a strong desire to make a difference), and difficulty with exiting established relationships with nonprofits, perhaps because the transaction costs of “breaking up” seem too high. To our surprise, we also found that nearly a third of the study participants do not think of themselves as “philanthropists,” despite giving an average of nearly $1 million annually.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Center for High Impact Philanthropy on Feb 17, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/10/2014

 
I’NotRockfllr”:
33HighNtWorthPhilanthropistsDiscussThirApproachtoGiving
KathlnNoonan|KathrinaRosquta
Over the past year, the Center or High ImpactPhilanthropy conducted a series o structuredinterviews to determine how high net worthindividual philanthropists (dened by the Centeras having the capacity to give $1 million per year)make decisions about giving. What we ound were aset o diverse and evolving practices, a predominantreliance on peers or inormation, a narrow andnegative view o evaluation (despite a strong desireto make a dierence), and diculty with exitingestablished relationships with nonprots, perhapsbecause the transaction costs o “breaking up” seemtoo high. o our surprise, we also ound that nearly a third o the study participants do not think o themselves as “philanthropists,” despite giving anaverage o nearly $1 million annually.Intuitive solutions to addressing the inormationalgaps identied in the interviews present uniqueproblems or high net worth philanthropists.Many expressed a reluctance to investigate theeectiveness o potential recipients or ear o inviting unwanted solicitations or appearingdistrustul or overly demanding o the nonprotswith which they already had relationships.Most did not know about or reer to the myriadacademic and nonprot resources in their areas o interest. Given the limited inormation they used,philanthropic decisions can thereore be signicantgambles. Entities like the Center that createresources and tools or philanthropists neednew ways to synthesize, package and distributeinormation to increase the likelihood o its usein giving decisions.
“Thword‘philanthropist’stillcracksupcausitsoundssohoity-toity...I’notRockfllr”
–highnetworthdonorinterviewedbyCenter 
ExEcutivE Summary
Th Ct fo Hih Ipact Phiathopy
SchoolofSocialPolicy&Practic|UnivrsityofPnnsylvania
SePTembeR2008
 
The CenTer for high impaCT philanThropy
ii
Aot Th Ct fo Hih Ipact Phiathopy
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP) is a resource center designed to guidephilanthropists and their advisors as they decide where to allocate their philanthropic dollars.Its goal is to provide information and tools to help philanthropists determine where their giftswould have the greatest potential to improve the lives of others.Our staff gathers information from multiple sources and thinks systematically about what it suggests, how it fits together, and how best to use it. Staff members then translate theirfindings into clear and practical decision-making tools.The Center identifies promising programs to support using a multi-perspective, evidence-based approach that synthesizes three types of information: field experience (project evaluations, case studies, and policy analysis), rigorous scientific research (randomizedcontrol trials and studies with good comparison groups), and informed opinion (expert analysis, stakeholder input).We also identify practical ways to think through philanthropic decisions, measure socialimpact, and create new models for achieving impact. Our objective is to address not onlythe information gap in the world of philanthropy, but also the continuing uncertainty about the best ways to measure and compare effectiveness and the lack of analytic and decisionframeworks to support philanthropists focused on achieving high impact.The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is a neutral broker of information for individualphilanthropists, foundations, advisors, and others interested in achieving the highest socialimpact possible with their philanthropic dollars.
 
“i’m noT roCkefeller”: 33 high neT worTh philanThropisTs disCuss Their approaCh To giving
iii
TalofContnts
i. PurPoSE of thiS Study 1ii. about thiS Study 3
Ovrviw
3
mthodology
3
ParticipantDographics
4iii. What PhilanthroPiStS told uS 9
evolution
9
Inforation
13
Prs
14
evaluation
16iv. KEy imPlicationS of What PhilanthroPiStS Said 19
Appndix
21
IntrviwProtocol
23
Acknowldgnts
inSidE bacK covEr

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