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Study: Wealthy donors less materialistic than advisers think

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Wealthy donors are less materialistic than their financial advisers think they are, according to a new online study by the U.S. Trust and The Philanthropic Initiative.

The study queried individuals with $3 million or more in investable assets who are actively engaged in charitable giving, and the financial advisers including wealth advisers, trust and estate attorneys, accountants and other tax professionals.

It found that 46 percent of advisers thought reducing the tax burden motivated their clients’ giving. Among donors, however, only 10 percent of the donors said that motivated them.

Asked if the donors would reduce their giving if the estate tax were eliminated, 40 percent of the advisers said yes compared with 6 percent of the donors. Asked if the donors would reduce their giving if the income tax deductions were eliminated, 78 percent of the advisers said yes compared with 45 percent of the donors.

The study said advisers think top reasons that donors may shy away from giving are that they won’t have enough money to leave to their heirs (41 percent); they won’t be left with enough money for themselves (34 percent); and they don’t consider themselves wealthy enough to give (22 percent).

By contrast, the donors said their concerns were that their gift won’t be used wisely by a nonprofit recipient (30 percent); their lack of knowledge about or connection to a charity (24 percent); and fear of increased donation requests from others (17 percent).

The study also found other significant disconnects between donor and adviser perspectives, including on whether they discussed the subject of charitable giving early and often enough or effectively.

However, the study said, adviser involvement did correlate with the use of structured giving vehicles such as donor-advised funds, private or family foundations, and charitable trusts. Among donors who discuss philanthropy with an adviser, 47 percent use one or more structured giving vehicles when making donations to charitable organizations — while such vehicles are used by just 12 percent of individuals who don’t discuss philanthropy with an adviser.

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