The Pentera Blog

Meeting with Wealthy Donors Is Key to Charitable Giving

Like most planned giving officers, you probably spend a lot of time meeting with and talking to prospective donors, developing relationships. A new study supports that approach, including a finding that 88% of wealthy donors like to meet with staff and/or board members of nonprofits before making gifts to those charities.

"Going Beyond Giving: Perspectives on the philanthropic practices of high and ultra-high net worth donors" is a 2017 study by The Philanthropy Workshop, a worldwide network of about 450 philanthropists. It includes a survey of 219 donors followed by in-depth interviews with 20 of them, focusing on annual giving with some donors giving more than $5 million a year to charity.

When the donors were asked, "What type of pre-investment due diligence do you conduct?", the top answer by far (88%) was to meet with staff and/or board members of the charity. The donors also focused on the importance of building relationships in answering many other questions, and the study authors said they were surprised "how dominant relationship-driven tactics were to all aspects of giving" - confirming the approach regularly taken by planned giving officers.

"The authors expected more reliance on technical approaches," they wrote in an FAQ about the study, adding, "Respondents are most likely to invest their time and money in causes driven by their personal experiences, their relationships, and their network."

The study found that a high percentage of donors volunteer for nonprofits (89%), attend philanthropy conferences (69%), and belong to philanthropy networks (72%) - including formal networks such as giving circles and informal social and professional networks. Most wealthy donors have no employees working on philanthropy (60%); instead they rely on friends, family, and professional advisors - that is, relationships - in making their philanthropic decisions.

The complete study and articles about it are available here.