Charitable giving season is here.  A majority of 2020 gifts to charity will likely be given in the next two months. So, who’s most likely to give? Russell James, a professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, discussed his research on the characteristics of charitable donors with The Nonprofit Times in a recent article entitled “Research Shows Donors’ 10 Estate Giving Characteristics.” The results may surprise you. (Or not.)

“The Emerging Potential of Longitudinal Empirical Research in Estate Planning: Examples from Charitable Bequests,” is based on the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which includes nationally representative data that has been released every two years since 1992, including the characteristics of charitable donors. The HRS monitored roughly 14,000 individuals beginning at age 50 to connect lifetime giving and other characteristics and planning to determine how estates have been transferred. The examination of the top 10 lifetime characteristics most important in predicting who would make post-mortem charitable transfers were as follows, in order of importance:

  • Consistency in donating (percentage of survey years when respondents gave $500+ to charity)
  • No children
  • The greatest amount ever donated in any one year in life
  • Consistency in reporting having a funded trust
  • Female
  • Wealth in the last survey
  • Not married
  • The amount of the donation in the year of the final survey
  • Having a growing trajectory of wealth leading up to death; and
  • Consistency in volunteering.

“Several of these most important predictive factors reflect behavior across many years,” said James. He cited wealth trajectory approaching death, rather than just ending wealth, as critical along with consistency across all survey years in giving, donating and reporting having a funded trust.

The greatest amount of donations ever reported in any one year was a major predictor. “By disclosing more of the lifetime history of decedent behaviors, the HRS reveals the importance of such comprehensive information in predicting post- mortem charitable estate transfers,” the paper noted.

To explore ways you can give voice to your charitable interests, consult an estate planning attorney who is knowledgeable about charitable gift planning.

Reference: The Nonprofit Times (Sep. 22, 2020) “Research Shows Donors’ 10 Estate Giving Characteristics”