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BNP Paribas Global Survey Shows What Philanthropists Care About Most

Tom Burroughes

12 February 2014

Health is the top cause for high net worth philanthropists in the US, while personal ties and direct experience is the main reason why donors in the country choose to support causes, according to a report on global attitudes by BNP Paribas, the French-headquartered banking group.

In its second edition of the the Individual Philanthropy Index, which measures and reflects the commitment of philanthropists in four regions – Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US, the report looks at the reasons people support certain causes, and the relative importance they attach to them. The index is based on a survey of over 400 HNW individuals around the world, each with investible assets of at least $5 million. The survey was carried out by Forbes Insights between October and December last year.

The findings may indicate how wealth management firms, many of which have dedicated philanthropy arms to work with clients in the area, can fine-tune service offerings to take heed of preferences and issues that engage clients who come from different parts of the globe. also highlights its philanthropy offering by its annual award programme, which last year featured a winner headquartered in California, for example. (The bank began its service for individual philanthropists in 2008.)

What they said

Among the top causes in the world, respondents from Europe, Asia and the Middle East cited the environment whereas health is the predominant cause for the US – a cause cited as top cause in 2013.

The Middle East and the US also stand out by selecting social change as one of the top three issues for philanthropy in the world, the report said.

The index also shows that the motivations of the philanthropists surveyed vary among the four regions and are largely rooted in local history and culture. In the US and the Middle East, it is first and foremost personal ties and experience linked to the chosen cause that motivate philanthropists, mentioned by 22 per cent and 29 per cent respectively of those interviewed in the two regions.

In Asia, the main motivator, cited by 19 per cent of respondents, is the desire to “give something back to society”.

In Europe, the altruistic desire to help others, mentioned by 22 per cent of respondents, comes out as the top motivator.

As far as the timing of philanthropic giving is concerned, some 79 per cent of those polled describe the worldwide need for philanthropic giving as “urgent” or “extremely urgent”.

Philanthropists’ relative view on the current state of their wealth can encourage them to increase their giving: this is the case for over half of respondents in the US and Asia and 72 per cent of those surveyed in the Middle East. In Europe, the picture is less clear-cut, with 40 per cent stating that the current state of their wealth encourages them to increase their giving whilst an equal number indicate that their perception would drive them to reduce their giving.

The Middle East is the region where philanthropists take the longest term view. More than half of all philanthropic donors are prepared to wait more than 25 years to see the impact of their philanthropic actions.

Donors in Asia, the US and Europe expect to see faster results, i.e., in under 10 years. Among these, the region with the highest proportion of philanthropic donors expecting to see the effect of their actions within this time-frame, is Asia (69 per cent).