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Paul G. Schervish

center on wealth and philanthropy


Insert Director, Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
Professor, Department of Sociology
Boston College
516 McGuinn Hall
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-4070
Fax (617) 552-3903

Paul G. Schervish is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP) at Boston College.  Schervish served as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2000-2001 academic year at University College Cork in the area of research on philanthropy.  For the 1999-2000 academic year he was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.  He has been selected five times to the NonProfit Times annual “Power and Influence Top 50,” a list which acknowledges the most effective leaders in the non-profit world.

He received a bachelor's degree in classical and comparative literature from the University of Detroit, a Masters in sociology from Northwestern University, a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Schervish directed the "Study on Wealth and Philanthropy," an examination of the strategies of living and giving among 130 millionaires, and the study, "The Contradictions of Christmas: Troubles and Traditions in Culture, Home, and Heart." With Mary A. O'Herlihy, and John J. Havens, Schervish produced the 2001 High-Tech Donors Study, which interviewed high tech executives to get to the heart of the "new philanthropy." In 2000, Schervish and Havens, in conjunction with Bankers Trust Private Banking, published the Bankers Trust Survey on Wealth with Responsibility, a study of wealth holders with net worth in excess of $5 million regarding their charitable giving and volunteering, attitudes about social issues, socially responsible investing, trust and estate planning, and the transfer of values to heirs.  In 1999, Schervish and Havens released the report, Millionaires and the Millennium: New Estimates of the Forthcoming Wealth Transfer and the Prospects for a Golden Age of Philanthropy, which estimates the wealth transfer over the next half century to be between $41 trillion and $136 trillion. He helped to find the Wealth & Giving Forum, a peer-centered endeavor to deepen the philanthropic engagement of the nation’s 7000 wealthiest families.  Current activities include developing and training fundraising and financial professionals in the use of a discernment methodology based on Ignatian principles for guiding wealth holders through a self-reflective process of decision-making about their finances and philanthropy.  With support from North Dakota’s Impact Foundation, Havens and Schervish completely revised their wealth transfer model which is to be released in 2012 in the report, Great Expectations: A New Model and Metric for the Continuing Wealth Transfer.  Over the past twenty-five years, CWP has received generous support from the T.B. Murphy Foundation Charitable Trust, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lilly Endowment Inc., the John Templeton Foundation, the Impact Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Boston Foundation, and the Wieler Family Foundation. 

Schervish has published in the areas of philanthropy, the sociology of money, the sociology of wealth, labor markets, unemployment, biographical narrative, and sociology of religion.  He presented the 2008 Annual Lecture for the Lake Family Institute on Faith and Giving which is published as “Receiving & Giving as Spiritual Exercise:  The Spirituality of Care in Soul, Relationship, and Community.”  Schervish is the editor of and contributor to Wealth in Western Thought: The Case for and against Riches (Praeger, 1994).  He is principal editor of Care and Community in Modern Society (Jossey-Bass, 1995) and the principal author of Taking Giving Seriously (Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, 1993) and of Gospels of Wealth: How the Rich Portray their Lives (Praeger, 1994).  His most recent book, co-authored with Keith Whitaker, is Wealth and the Will of God: Discerning the Use of Riches in the Service of Ultimate Purpose  (Indiana University Press, 2010).  He is completing work on Aristotle’s Legacy: The Moral Biography of Wealth and the New Physics of Philanthropy

Schervish serves regularly as a speaker and consultant on how to surface and analyze the moral biographies of wealth holders, on the motivations for charitable giving, on the demographic patterns of wealth and charitable giving, on donor-centered discernment approach to fundraising, and on the financial spirituality and dynamics of financial morality, including working with parents about “how much is enough” to provide for heirs. 

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