The giving needs of wealthy families

By Plum Lomax 16 December 2010

Little is known about very wealthy families in the UK—they like to keep themselves to themselves for fear of being actively pursued by people asking them to buy something or to donate their money to good causes.

Which is why it is interesting to see the responses from NPC’s latest research report into family philanthropy, jointly conducted with Global Partnership Family Offices where a survey was sent to over 600 family offices, exploring the challenges wealthy families face and the rewards they get from giving.

We weren’t surprised by a few aspects of the responses—that a large majority with children under 21 either discuss or actively involve their children in their giving, or that more than 90% of families either plan all or some of their giving (although this could of course just mean that they have set up a foundation, rather than being actively strategic in their giving).

But the key finding for us was that 60% of families would find some kind of philanthropy advice useful, particularly when it comes to monitoring the performance of the charities they fund. Many wealthy families want to apply the same kind of business mentality to their philanthropy that helped them make their wealth in the first place, which may involve setting milestones or KPIs for projects they set up, or evaluating the impact of organisations they fund. But they often don’t know how best to do that and this research shows they’re asking for help in this area.


The report ties in well with the first anniversary of the Philanthropy Advice Steering Group, a committee of private client advisors and philanthropy specialists who have the aim of increasing the provision of, and take up of, good philanthropy advice. In a nutshell, the group wants to get more advisors discussing philanthropy with their wealthy clients, and more wealthy individuals and families knowing that philanthropy advice exists (over and beyond the tax and legal aspects) and where to get that advice. This group now has over 34 organisations involved and is making good progress on various initiatives such as developing training for bankers and lawyers to increase their knowledge on the philanthropy sector. Our website will keep those interested updated on the group’s developments.