New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and Global Partnership presented the results of a philanthropy survey sent to over 600 single and multi-family offices in the UK between March and May 2010. The results offer insight into the philanthropic nature of some of the UK’s wealthiest families. The report titled: Family Philanthropy: rewards and challenges, dives into the philanthropic behavior of high net worth individuals revealing that while the vast majority of such clients like to actively plan their charitable giving there is a clear lack of service providers able to give the full range of advice they require. Wealth management firms largely do not have some provision in place to assist in this planning and are neglecting an important area in clients’ eyes. Fundamental to this planning process is deciding which causes to support and which charities are making an impact. Philanthropists are finding it hard to access the information they need to make informed choices and would welcome input from their advisors.

NPC summarizes the reports key findings as follows:

– Giving back to the community and addressing needs are major motivations for family giving, rather than public recognition.
– Most families have had positive experiences of giving, but highlighted some unfavorable aspects including ‘tortuous administration’ and fear of being ‘actively pursued by charities’.
– 85% of respondents with children under 21 involve them in their giving.
– The main criteria for selecting charities are the charity’s vision and strategy and whether it is focused on the greatest need.
– Finding information about charities is a challenge, particularly around the measurement of results.
– Nearly 60% of families would find philanthropy advice useful.

There is a growing need for specialized philanthropic advisors offering services to support wealth managers and family offices. Even though this specific report is UK-based, there have been other similar studies in the US. Howard J. Stock wrote an article titled “Clients Lack Charitable Giving Advice” in October of this year. In it he noted a survey which said that only 52% of advisors are proactively reaching out to clients about their charitable gifting. Of the 48% who are not, 31% said it is because they lack expertise to offer guidance.

This is certainly an untapped opportunity for advisors to strengthen client relationships and grow their practices.