PHILADELPHIA â A sizable percentage of high-net-worth givers do not see themselves as philanthropists even though each gives away about a million dollars or more annually.
That is among the findings of a study by the University of Pennsylvaniaâs Center for High Impact Philanthropy.
The CHIP study involved structured interviews with 33 anonymous high-net-worth individuals, each capable of giving $1 million annually.
âIâm Not Rockefeller: 33 High Net Worth Philanthropists Discuss Their Approach to Givingâ examines how these people approach their charitable giving.
Researchers found a set of diverse and evolving practices, a strong reliance on peers for information, a narrow and negative view of evaluation and difficulty exiting established relationships with non-profits, even when the philanthropist felt it was the right thing to do.
And about a third of the study participants did not view themselves as âphilanthropists,â despite their considerable generosity.
âSeveral participants said things like, âIâm a really nice guy who gives money to charities. I donât think that makes me a philanthropist,ââ Katherina Rosqueta, CHIP executive director, said.
âOr, âthe word âphilanthropistâ still cracks me up because it sounds so hoity-toity. Iâm not Rockefeller.â This, despite the fact that their giving is much greater than the average charitable contribution of the top U.S. income group,â Rosqueta said.
The study offers implications for those working to improve philanthropic effectiveness.
âThe good news,â Rosqueta said, âis that these philanthropists are capable of giving much more than they do, and many acknowledge that. The bad news is that the lack of time and trusted resources mean that, despite their good intentions, many just sit on the capital because they donât feel confident about making smart decisions. Unless we can figure out ways to get them to good decisions faster, we will be missing out on a lot of good that this latent capital could create.â
The studyâs findings, key themes and implications for the field are available from the Centerâs Web site: www.impact.upenn.edu.
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy was established by alumni of Pennâs Wharton School and is housed at Pennâs School of Social Policy and Practice. It provides information and tools to allow philanthropists to determine where their gifts have the greatest potential to improve the lives of others