The Giving Journey: Guiding New Donors to Actualized Philanthropy

Published January 2018
By: Heather McLeod Grant, Kate Wilkinson
Advisors: Alexa Cortes Culwell, Rebecca Trobe, Katherine Fulton

What motivates newly wealthy individuals and families to give? What barriers do they face in their giving? And how can we help these donors give more, more intentionally and effectively?

In The Giving Journey: Guiding New Donors to Actualized Philanthropy, we examine these questions critical to understanding and amplifying individual giving. The report is based on conversations with 50 ultra-wealthy individuals—with $10 million to $1 billion in net assets—in the Bay Area. Unlike previous generations of philanthropists, these new donors tend to be younger, have more wealth to give away, and are choosing to do so within their lifetimes. They also carry the mindsets and tools from tech and business backgrounds into their philanthropy.

We learned that what motivates these donors often has more to do with their own development, their inner life, and what they care about, rather than external needs in the marketplace. Giving is highly personal, highly relational, and very influenced by their peer networks. In the report, we share our key findings, framed around the “giving journey,” and the evolution of these donors from reactive grantmaking to more intentional, actualized, and strategic philanthropy. We also call out many ways that the social sector can begin to unleash more philanthropy by serving emerging donors’ unmet needs, and by addressing both their motives for giving and the barriers that get in their way.