A new survey from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy provides insight into how philanthropists select charities to support, view overhead costs, obtain information about nonprofits, and assess the impact of their philanthropy. Researchers interviewed 33 individuals. Between them, the study’s participants give an average of $1.5 million annually. The findings include:
Participants indicated that their criteria for philanthropic giving included personal involvement with an organization (or the involvement of someone known to them) and the ability to influence a tangible program or project related to a passion or interest.
Many participants said overhead costs were not particularly important when deciding which causes to support.
Participants said that they obtain the majority of information related to giving from peer networks of friends, business associates, and, most importantly, other philanthropists. After peer networks, the most frequently cited resource for giving information was the popular media (e.g., the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and business monthlies).
Many participants said that they find it difficult to identify and track outcomes from their giving. Several said that they choose projects that are time-limited and highly tangible so the impacts of their gifts are easy to observe.
The report is available at http://www.impact.upenn.edu/UPenn_CHIP_HNWP_Study.pdf