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Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
Spiritual and Cultural Life in an Age of Affluence Wealth and the Commonwealth Newsletter Volume 12: April 2007

Contents

African American Charitable Giving Increases with Wealth Increase

Gates Foundation Awards CWP $600-Thousand Grant

Donor’s Perception of Financial Security Foundational to All Giving

"The Moral Biography of Wealth: Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation of Philanthropy."

Robert Kenny Joins the CWP Staff


 

African American Charitable Giving Increases with Wealth Increase

The following is a snapshot of some of the data that John Havens, Senior Associate Director of the Center, has compiled on African American charitable giving. Based on SCF, from 2001 to 2004 African American headed households increased their aggregate networth from $1.05 trillion (assets of $1.49 trillion but debt of $0.44 trillion) to $1.68 trillion (assets of $2.33 trillion but debt of $0.65 trillion). Aggregate charitable contributions increased from $10.5 billion (1.8% of income) to $13.8 billion (2.5% of income). There was a 60% increase in aggregate wealth among African Americans and a 31% increase in aggregate charitable giving. Business ownership increased from 3.0% to 4.7%. The percentage of African American households with at least $500,000 in assets increased from 354,000 households to 1,035,000 households. The median African American net worth however remains unchanged at a low $20,000.

There is a sizable group (circa 25%) of African American households whose income and wealth is growing rapidly. These people are disproportionately young, married, home owners, well-educated, and business owners. Few have inherited any wealth; they are making all the money now.



Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to send you the spring issue of our newsletter, Wealth and the Commonwealth.

We are delighted to announce that the Center has received a $600-thousand grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will be used to expand our capacity and conduct the unparalleled Survey on Wealth, Spirituality, and Philanthropy, reaching households of $25 million or more. More detail about the Gates Foundation grant can be found below.

We are very happy to announce a conference to be held on May 23, 2007 at Boston College co- sponsored by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy and Smith Barney Consulting Group. This symposium is designed to help provide expert knowledge and insight about the trends, meanings, motives and strategies that influence today's philanthropies. We have assembled a roster of professionals to share their thoughts on both the challenges of today and designing the best practices for the future. Space at this conference is limited and we urge you to reserve your spot today. For more information please click here.

The first of these articles informs the debate about the impact of reduced estate taxes on charitable giving. This edition also includes a discussion of three recent reports we’ve published, “Leaving a Legacy of Care,” “It Is Better to Receive and to Give,” and “Philanthropy’s Indispensable Ally.”

The first of these articles informs the debate about the impact of reduced estate taxes on charitable giving. The second article reports that even controlling for wealth and income, recipients of gifts or inheritances give significantly more to charity than non-recipients. The third report indicates that a self-defined sense of financial security by a wealth holder is has a positive relationship with lifetime giving.

In addition to these articles, we have also included a profile of Robert A. Kenny, the newest addition to the Center’s staff. Bob joins us as CWP’s Associate Director for External Relations. We are very excited to welcome Bob, and look forward to the many positive contributions he will make to the Center.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. I wish you, your family, and your friends a relaxing spring season.

Cordially,
Paul Schervish
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy


  • Gates Foundation Awards CWP $600-Thousand Grant
  • The Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy has received a $600-thousand grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The award will be used to expand the capacity of the Center, which is nationally recognized for its research on the patterns of charitable giving by wealth holders. Among other initiatives, the grant will launch an unparalleled wealth study - the first large-scale survey to focus exclusively on households with at least $25 million in net worth, with a considerable portion of those respondents above $100 million, including some billionaires.

    The groundbreaking survey will explore the spiritual formulation of wealth for individuals and the new cultural underpinnings of wealth for society. The objective is to better understand wealth holders’ decision-making about allocation of resources and how they fashion a moral biography of wealth for themselves that generates care for others. In short, the Gates funded study will provide a basis for the advancement of a social movement of thoughtful philanthropy and assist wealth holders in understanding their place in this movement.

    This project is aligned with the Gates Foundation goal of expanding philanthropy by providing benchmark information for wealth holders and professionals who work with them. According to Schervish, director of the Center, the project’s findings are also for the general public who may not be technically wealthy but for whom the use of discretionary resources is an increasingly pertinent spiritual question.

    "We are grateful to the Gates Foundation for enabling us to expand the body of our knowledge through this groundbreaking work," Schervish said. "The grant will allow us to expand the reach of our message throughout the world, both through our research publications and through our executive education programs for development officers, wealth holding households and financial professionals.”

    “The Survey on Wealth, Spirituality, and Philanthropy,” to be directed by Schervish and John J. Havens, Senior Research Associate and Senior Associate Director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, was launched in January 2007, and is expected to be in the field by September and published in the autumn of 2008. The project ties directly to the past efforts of the Center to interview and survey wealth holders. This survey will ask behavioral and attitudinal questions about the little understood dilemmas, obstacles, opportunities, and spiritual understandings of wealth and will tender a rare insight into the financial and philanthropic counseling needs of ultra high net worth households.

    "This study is significant," said Schervish, "because its findings will provide a window into the cultural horizons of wealth and can directly help wealth holders use their resources as a tool for nobler purposes into the 21st century.”

  • Donor’s Perception of Financial Security Foundational to All Giving
  • As first introduced in an article published in Philanthropy Magazine titled, “Philanthropy’s Indispensable Ally” late last spring, it is apparent that “it is not just the objective size of people’s pocketbooks that matters but also their subjective sense of financial security” that largely influences charitable giving. Analysis of the results from a survey conducted by the Center shows that it is self- assessed financial security that accompanies large increases in giving. Paul Schervish, John Havens, and Keith Whitaker, the authors of the article, hypothesize that this can be attributed to the desire of people to make sure their wealth will adequately support the standard of living they’re used to before deciding if and how much to donate.

    These findings connect to two other articles by Schervish, Havens, and Whitaker in Philanthropy Magazine, “It is Better to Receive and to Give,” and, “Leaving a Legacy of Care.” The first of these articles indicates that of receivers of an inheritance “have a greater sense of financial well-being and confidence regarding the financial future [which] leads to greater charitable giving.” The second of these articles grapples with the question of the effects of reduced estate taxes on charitable giving and find that “as people become more financially secure, incentives more powerful than taxes incline them to support charity and to limit their bequests to heirs.” The authors attributed this to that fact that “once wealth-holders recognize their families are financially secure, they tend to look for deeper purpose for their material means.” Overall, whether giving, receiving, or estate planning, charitable giving is related to one’s subjective sense of financial security.

    Continue reading at:

    “Leaving a Legacy of Care”
    Paul G. Schervish, John Havens, and Albert Keith Whitaker Published in Philanthropy Magazine Volume XX, No. 1, pp. 11-13

    “It Is Better to Receive and to Give”
    Paul G. Schervish, John Havens, and Albert Keith Whitaker Published in Philanthropy Magazine Volume XX, No. 4, pp. 10-12 July/August 2006

    “Philanthropy’s Indispensable Ally”
    Paul G. Schervish, John Havens, and Albert Keith Whitaker Published in Philanthropy Magazine Volume XIX, No. 3, pp. 8-9 May/June 2005

  • "The Moral Biography of Wealth: Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation of Philanthropy."
  • Moral biography refers to the way all individuals conscientiously combine two elements in daily life: personal capacity and moral compass. Exploring the moral biography of wealth highlights the philosophical foundations of major gifts by major donors. In this article Paul Schervish first provides several examples to elucidate his definition of moral biography. Second, he elaborates the elements of a moral biography. Third, he describes the characteristics that make one's moral biography a spiritual or religious biography. Fourth, he discusses the distinctive characteristics of a moral biography of wealth. Fifth, he suggests that implementing a process of discernment will enable development professionals to work more productively with donors.

    Schervish concludes by placing the notion of a moral biography of wealth in historical context and suggests how advancement professionals can deepen their own moral biography by working to deepen the moral biography of their donors.

    More..
  • Robert Kenny Joins the CWP Staff
  • Bob Kenny is Associate Director for External Relations at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. Bob holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University, a certificate of advanced studies from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, a master's degree in Educational Psychology from Seton Hall University and a BA in History from Benedictine College.

    Since July of 2006 Bob has been a visiting scholar at Money and Values Project at The Marpa Center for Business and Economics at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado. For almost five years Bob was the executive director of the More Than Money Institute, a national non-profit committed to helping people align their money with their values as they live full and compassionate lives and make meaningful contributions to the greater good.

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