Charitable Causes and Effects: Wealthy Americans Conflicted About Their Philanthropic Giving Amid Downturn

Share Article

The majority of wealthy Americans have maintained a sense of obligation to give financially to their communities amid the economic doldrums, but more than one in four have cut their giving, according to the Wealth and Values Survey by PNC Wealth Management.

The economy has forced a fundamental shift in how the wealthy approach their philanthropic activities

The majority of wealthy Americans have maintained a sense of obligation to give financially to their communities amid the economic doldrums, but more than one in four have cut their giving, according to the Wealth and Values Survey by PNC Wealth Management, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC).

The sixth annual survey of 1,046 affluent Americans, all of whom have at least $500,000 in investable assets, revealed despite the recession that has affected all Americans, the sense of giving has not dropped significantly from previous years, when times were better.

More than half (55 percent) said “I have an obligation to give back financially to my community,” roughly the same as in 2008 (58 percent), and almost identical to 2006 and 2007 when 54 percent answered positively.

At the same time, the recession has created concern among the wealthy about their ability to continue to give as they have in the past.

The Wealth and Values Survey by PNC, which is among the nation’s top 20 wealth management firms, revealed that more than one-quarter (28 percent) say they have already or plan to cut back the total amount of charitable giving in response to the economic climate. This compares to just 13 percent who say they have increased, or plan to increase, their giving.

About one quarter (24 percent) of the ultra wealthy ($5 million or more in investable assets) are concerned with their ability to give to charities, compared to 16 percent of those with $500,000 to $1 million in assets.
“The economy has forced a fundamental shift in how the wealthy approach their philanthropic activities,” said Bruce Bickel, senior vice president of PNC Wealth Management and head of private foundation management services. “In many cases they are refining their giving to reflect the potential for greater impact to specific issues that are most meaningful to them, sometimes restricted by geographical preferences. They are purposefully becoming more mission-driven and governed less by emotion.”

Bickel, who manages 23 family foundations through PNC Wealth Management, noted that individuals or families looking to re-evaluate their giving behavior should determine the legacy they want to perpetuate, the values they want to preserve and the area of society they want to promote.

“The top priority is to identify family values before determining what dollar amounts they want to distribute,” he said.

Survey Methodology
The Wealth and Values Survey was commissioned by PNC to identify attitudes about wealth among high-net-worth individuals, how it affects their lives and their needs in managing wealth. The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris InteractiveÒ in September and October 2009 among a nationwide cross section of 1,046 adults (age 18 or over) with annual incomes of $150,000 or above (if employed), at least $500,000 of investable assets (unless retired) or at least $1 million of investable assets (if retired). Findings are significant at the 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (http://www.pnc.com) is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management; asset management and global fund services.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Alan Aldinger
Visit website