The Giving Investment?

What makes a major donor give? The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University completed a study of high net worth philanthropy. Their findings produced some eye opening insight.

Across the spectrum of major donors—whether they were giving at death, entrepreneurs or ultra high net worth, there was a common denominator. That common denominator was perhaps surprising.

Are you ready? It’s really pretty simple: major donors would give more if the charity can demonstrate that their gift will have impact. It’s an investment mindset. Let me make a gift; then the charity must show results.

All too often, charities want to tell only stories. (Sadly, the stories they tell may be years old — nothing recent.) Or the charity relies upon the strong friendship bond with a major donor.

But the proof is in the pudding: 70-80% of high net worth donors would give more if the charity can demonstrate impact. Think about it.

William High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Christian Community Foundation ( If you have questions about this blog or how to demonstrate impact email him at

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