World's wealthy looking to "give while they live"

Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:22pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More of the world's rich people are opting for "giving while living" rather than waiting until they are dead to donate their wealth to charity, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Philanthropy by the world's rich recovered in 2009 in all regions but North America after undergoing a sharp drop the previous year due to the global financial crisis, the Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report found.

And more of the world's wealthy are incorporating giving into their investment strategies, seeking value for their philanthropy and turning to their wealth managers for advice, it said.

"Our financial advisers are seeing more and more a willingness and an understanding on the part of their clients that their philanthropic intentions need to be part of their broader wealth management plan," said Chris Dupuy, head of institutional investments and philanthropic solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"In years past it was almost a stand alone topic that one didn't always choose to consult their adviser on," he said.

While the report does not collect data on how much the world's wealthy are giving to charity -- it simply asked if they were giving more or less -- it found they are much more focused on where they give their money.

"Donors are making more investments rather than gifts," said Gillian Howell, national head of private philanthropy for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"They are looking at their philanthropy just like they would look at their investment portfolio, and they're looking for a return on really every dollar they put in," she said. "They want to see that impact in their lifetime."   Continued...