Planned Giving :: New findings from a 12 year study

Russell James III, J.D., Ph.D., of the University of Georgiaʼs Institute for Nonprofit Organizations authored the new report. “This study was the first nationally representative, longitudinal analysis of charitable bequest behavior among older adults,” explained Dr. James. The study was longitudinal, meaning that it followed the same group of individuals over several years. It tracked over 20,000 older Americans (over the age of 50) between 1995 and 2006 as part of a larger Health and Retirement Study. “For those who think the generational transfer will automatically flood their organizations with resources, itʼs time to think again,” said Mr. James. “Without putting in the hard work of generating these planned gifts, 90 percent of donor mortality will simply result in lost current giving.” The study found that people who didnʼt have children or grandchildren were the most likely to make charitable bequests. The study found that it was far more important to know whether a person was a parent or grandparent than how well educated they were, how wealthy they were, or whether they volunteered at a charity. “In fact, even if A had more income, or education, or assets, he is still less likely to leave a charitable estate gift than B,” added Mr. James. The study found that among the 1,306 people in the study who dropped a charitable bequest from their wills during the nine-year survey, the number-one reason was that they had become grandparents. People who were in declining health and those who stopped making gifts during their lifetime also were less likely to make a bequest. Conversely, for the 1,477 people in the study who added charitable provisions to their will, the decision came after they started to make gifts to charity, their health improved, or their wealth increased. “Donʼt recruit estate givers just by age and giving level. Identify any donor without children. Itʼs such a huge factor that you need to be having a conversation with those individuals,” Predicting a charitable estate planning change The changes most likely to predict the removal of a charitable estate plan: 1. Becoming a grandparent 2. Becoming a parent 3. Stopping charitable giving 4. A drop in self reported health The changes most likely to predict the addition of a charitable estate plan: 1. Starting to make charitable gifts 2. An improvement in self reported health 3. An increase in assets Sources & Recommend Readings:
James, Russell N.. "Causes and Correlates of Charitable Giving in Estate Planning". Athens, GA 30602: University of Georgia Institute for Nonprofit Organizations, 2009. Wasley, Paula. "New Research Sheds Light on Bequest Giving". Chronicle of philanthropy. November 18, 2009 <>.

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