Wealth and the Commonwealth: Philanthropy Newsletter
Wealth and the Commonwealth
  Research on Cultural Life in an Age of Affluence May 2002  

in this issue



Findings: Volunteering by the Wealthy

Findings: Charitable Giving by the Wealthy

Findings: Children and Wealth

Findings: Estate Planning



On Sunday March 03, 2002, the Boston Sunday Globe's Big Idea page focused on SWRI's research on wealth transfer.

Long-time SWRI funder, Thomas B. Murphy, talks about what he has done with his wealth.

SWRI Director, Paul Schervish, discusses the new philanthropists and the implications of the forthcoming $41 trillion wealth transfer for philanthropy.

Thomas B. Murphy's son, Robert L. Murphy, provides the perspective of the younger generation on inherited wealth and values.

Read all three articles

   Good Morning

I am pleased to send you the first issue of a periodic update on our research at the Social Welfare Research Institute on wealth and philanthropy. The title of the newsletter, "Wealth and the Commonwealth," captures the focus of our work: the relationship between private financial wherewithal and care for the needs of others. The subtitle, "Research on Cultural Life in an Age of Affluence," expresses our belief that increases in wealth and standard of living are changing the spiritual terrain in which people live, understand who they are, and chart how they hope to be effective with their time, skills, and riches.

This issue focuses on the findings from a survey of 112 wealth holders worth $5 million or more and presents some insight into "The Mind of the Millionaire." We hope "Wealth and the Commonwealth" will help provide some added meaning and practical benefit for you in your good work. Paul Schervish, Director, SWRI

  •    "Few subjects arouse more widespread discussion than the motives, mental processes, and behavior of the rich," wrote Albert Atwood in 1926. Fascination with and opinion about the wealthy have never gone out of style. In 1998, with Deutsche Bank Private Banking, we conducted a survey of 112 wealth holders worth $5 million and more. In this issue learn more from our report "The Mind of the Millionaire" about what respondents told us about their volunteering, their charitable giving, their education of their children about wealth, and their estate-planning.

    Other topics covered by the complete report include the source of the respondents' wealth, feelings of financial security, the freedoms afforded by wealth, the demographic characteristics of the respondents, and the survey methodology.

    Download "The Mind of the Millionaire"

  • Findings: Volunteering by the Wealthy
  •    VolunteerAlmost all the respondents in the study (92%) have volunteered their time to charitable or political causes during the previous three years. Most of the respondents (86%) currently volunteer at least one hour in an average month in these activities. The amount of time respondents spend on these activities in an average month ranges from 1 to 100 hours with a median of 10 hours and an average of 15 hours per month or 180 hours per year.

    Read complete section on volunteering

  • Findings: Charitable Giving by the Wealthy
  •    Gasson in the MorningThe average annual amount of contributions to charitable and political causes was $1.2 million per family in 1997, or an average of 22% of their family income. Of this, only $12,000 on average was given to political causes, parties, or candidates. The amounts contributed range from $1,700 (0.1% of income) to $36.1 million (481% of income). The largest amounts were donated to trusts, gift funds, or foundations, which on average received $750,000.

    Read more about charitable contributions from the study

  • Findings: Children and Wealth
  •    Small Child97% of respondents in the study report that they are or were consciously active in teaching their family values to their children. Respondents mentioned a variety of activities which could be grouped into three categories (1) frugal financial management, such as earning spending money and avoiding materialism; (2) the dispositions of humility and responsibility, such as realizing that wealth entails a measure of good fortune and blessing and requires special responsibilities; and (3) philanthropic involvements, such as bringing children into their parents' philanthropy and encouraging, or requiring, their children to carry out giving and volunteering.

    More findings on children and wealth

  • Findings: Estate Planning
  •    Books89% of the survey respondents have a written estate plan. On average, they expect that 37% of their estate will go to taxes, 46% to heirs, and 16% to charitable organizations. If they could modify this distribution, they would prefer that 9% go to taxes, 65% to heirs, and 26% to charitable organizations. In moving to their preferred distribution, wealth holders would divide the tax savings in a ratio of 2-to-1 between heirs and charities.

    Learn more about estate planning by the wealthy

  •    Stained glassDo you know anyone else who might be interested in receiving our research on wealth and philanthropy? Please feel free to forward "Wealth and the Commonwealth" to them. They can also sign up for our newsletter on our homepage at /swri

    Please be assured that we will not share your information with any other organization.

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