Why Don’t Rich People Give More?—the perennial question

boxiconRecently several commentators have opined that the “rich” don’t give “enough” to charity—or to the “right” organizations to insure the “maximum” benefit.  Hmmm.


Aside from the getting their facts wrong—the Center on Philanthropy in their high-net-worth donor studies consistently show that those at the top of the financial pyramid give more in both percentage and absolute terms than the rest of us—there are a lot of hidden values and assumptions with the use of the words “enough”, “right” and “maximum”.


I’ll not attempt to parse these terms in their full meanings here but suffice it to say that my experience with philanthropists—well-healed and otherwise—is that they view their resources as both an opportunity and a burden.  They want to see these resources used effectively and for the betterment of others.  They are keenly aware that serious resources are an opportunity to have serious impact.


The rub often comes when they are treated indifferently or as piggy banks by those fundraisers and “do-gooders” who see themselves as having the “higher calling” and are not “tainted” by wealth.  Reference the vocabulary in the first paragraph.


By approaching philanthropists with the attitude of extraction, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders deny themselves the opportunity to make a genuine partner and often turn-off the would-be investor who is looking for both outcomes and accountability.


The opportunity to a bi-lateral relationship whereby the needs and aspirations of both giver and receiver are fulfilled is the fundamental premise for all meaningful philanthropy.  It’s about sharing visions not transferring wealth.


Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Donors are the Drivers™.  Philanthropists are often the pilots, but they need and want a navigator.  Any takers?


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