Recently, U.S. Trust and Bank of America published findings from a survey of 2,200 of its wealthiest clients (at least $1 million in assets).  Here’s what they learned about wealthy donors and their giving habits:

  • 90% of survey participants donate to charity, but only 20% of these respondents consider their giving to be “effective.”
  • 52% plan to leave a significant portion of their estate to charity.
  • One third have increased their giving over the last decade.
  • 85% said they ”have more money to give to charity this year.”
  • Issues that matter most to survey respondents: education (56%) and poverty (34%).
  • 70% have a budget for charitable giving.
  • 75% volunteered at a charity last year.  50% volunteered after being asked.  Only 18% volunteered on their own.
  • Top reasons wealthy donors stop giving: Solicited too frequently (41%), Organization judged to be ineffective (18%), Organization’s leadership changed (16%)

There are several clear lessons from the survey results:

  • Your organization must emphasize it’s effectiveness to retain donors.  Show outcomes and provide regular reports to donors.
  • You organization should have a plan in place to begin speaking to your wealthiest supporters about their estate plans.
  • Wealthier donors have more money to give and are planning to give more this year.  Be bold in your gift requests.
  • If your organization has an “education” component, emphasize it with your wealthier donors.
  • Ask your wealthier donors to consider volunteering with your organization to draw them closer to your mission.
  • Watch how frequently you solicit your donor base.  Most donors prefer to be approached once a year.

Learn from this survey and refine your approach for more effective donor cultivation and stewardship.