Against the backdrop of a turbulent economy
and ongoing turmoil on Wall Street, the
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP) at
Boston College and the Association of
Fundraising Professionals (AFP) hosted a sell
out national forum on Philanthropy in the
21st Century on the University's main campus
in Chestnut Hill, Mass. on October 7-8, 2008.
I want to thank Rhonda Starr and her team at
AFP for their marvelous collaboration and I
look forward working with them in the future.
I also want to thank all our good friends at
Eaton Vance Investment Counsel
Anne Sternlicht, Bill Flemer and Muriel
Nichols, who were our generous conference
The program brought to campus wealth
advisors, estate planners, fundraising
professionals, directors of planned giving,
vice presidents of development, as well as
CEOs and board members of nonprofit
organizations to explore the new dynamics of
philanthropy, as well as the $41 trillion
intergenerational transfer of wealth that CWP
has projected will take place from 1998
Topics at the conference also included
charitable motivations and supply-side
changes among donors and clients across the
spectrum of wealth.
Keynote speakers at the event included Anne
E. Sternlicht, vice president for Eaton Vance
Investment Counsel, Thomas Murphy founder of
the T. B. Murphy Foundation Charitable
and Museum of Fine Arts/Boston Deputy
Director Patricia B. Jacoby. Anne E.
Sternlicht discussed the insights she has
garnered from working with her clients at
Eaton Vance and articulated the
work being done in Philanthropy in her
presentation: Finances and Philanthropy:
Insights and Challenges or Six Lessons We
Learned from our Clients. Pat Jacoby detailed
the recent capital campaign at the Museum of
Fine Arts which successfully raised over $500
million in her presentation: Building the New
Museum. Tom Murphy who for the past twenty
years has supported and consulted on research
at The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
demonstrated the techniques of the moral
The prevailing turmoil in the U.S. financial
markets was on the minds of the forum
participants. In his presentation Senior
Associate Director John Havens, a leading
authority on empirical patterns of wealth,
explained "a wealth recession is three
successive quarters with a decrease in the
real value of wealth in the US." Havens
cautioned, at this point there are not a lot
of definitive - or reassuring - answers for
those in the philanthropic field.
Nevertheless the current crisis is similar to
the conditions nearly a decade ago. Havens
went onto explain to the forum that, "in
general, economic downturns or crises -- such
as those associated with 9/11 or Hurricane
Katrina -- do not so much lower the total
amount of charitable giving as lower the rate
of its growth for the year in which the event
Paula Wasley reported in the Chronicle of
Philanthropy a terrific description of John
Havens's presentation on Trends in Financial
Capacity and Charitable Donations. We have
enclosed a link to Paula Wasley's article,
which was subsequently picked up by over
fifty news outlets throughout the world. I
hope you enjoy reading what John had to say.
If you were unable to attend the conference I
have included links to the suggested readings
from the conference. In the weeks ahead we
plan to have video clips available.
As always, I welcome your comments and
feedback. I wish you, your family,
and your friends a wonderful thanksgiving season.
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
|Chronicle of Philanthropy: "Charitable Giving Might Not Melt Down, Philanthropy Scholar Predicts"
On October 8, 2008, The
Chronicle of Philanthropy published
about information John Havens introduced at
the conference. The following is the text of
the article, as published:
"Even with the steep stock-market drops of
the past week, a prominent wealth researcher
at Boston College says philanthropy may not
suffer a financial meltdown as dire as some
fund raisers fear.
Even with the steep stock-market drops of the
past week, a prominent wealth researcher at
Boston College says philanthropy may not
suffer a financial meltdown as dire as some
fund raisers fear.
More important, he said, unless national
incomes drop sharply, the decline in giving
may not last long or be significant.
The current crisis is similar to the
conditions nearly a decade ago, said Mr.
Havens, at a conference on "The Supply and
Demand of Philanthropy in the 21st Century,"
sponsored Boston College's Center on Wealth
and Philanthropy, the Association of
Fundraising Professionals, and the Eaton
Vance Investment Council.
In the last recession, said Mr. Havens, the
United States began to see a decline in net
wealth in 1999, even before the burst of the
dot-com bubble precipitated the 2000
stock-market crash. The downward growth in
wealth continued for three years, with
aggregate household wealth declining by 15 to
20 percent from 1999 to 2002 - the largest
and deepest downturn in wealth since the 1930s.
Those variations in net worth, however, did
not directly correlate with changes in
philanthropic giving, Mr. Havens said.
Average household contributions did not begin
to fall until 2000, and they did not drop as
much as households' net worth did. From 1999
to 2002, household donations decreased by 10
percent, while their net worths dropped by as
much as 20 percent. Moreover, said Mr.
Havens, once net wealth began to grow again
in 2002, donations also rebounded.
The net wealth of households began to decline
in the fourth quarter of 2007, said Mr.
Havens. Based on the previous recession, Mr.
Havens predicted a lag of up to a year before
donations decline - -in part because most
high-net worth donors plan their charitable
contributions a year in advance - and the
decline in aggregate donations may not be
But Mr. Havens' prediction, he warned,
assumed there would be no big drops in
income. If household incomes decline sharply,
the impact on giving would probably be more
severe and prolonged, said Mr. Havens.
However, he added, household income levels
have historically tended to remain more
stable than net wealth."
|Suggested Reading Recap
The following are suggested background
reading regarding topics covered at
1) "Today's Wealth Holder and Tomorrow's
The New Dynamics of Wealth and Philanthropy."
Paul G. Schervish. Journal of Gift Planning.
Vol. 9, no.
3. 3rd Quarter 2005. Pp. 15-37.
Increasing numbers of individuals are
achieving, or even exceeding their financial
younger and younger ages. A level of
had been rare has come to characterize large
and even whole cultures. In the context of an
intergenerational transfer of wealth, the author
examines demographic and spiritual trends
motivating wealth holders to allocate an
portion of their financial resources to charity.
2) "Why The Wealthy Give: Factors Which
Mobilize Philanthropy Among High Net-Worth
Individuals." Paul G. Schervish. The
Routledge Companion to Nonprofit Marketing.
Published Winter 2008. This article outlines
the motivations of high
net-worth individuals for philanthropy.
3) "How do People Leave Bequests: Family or
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. In
Alicia Munnell and Annika Sunden, (eds.),
Death and Dollars, forthcoming Brookings
Press. This paper presents an alternative
paradigm to economic models of transfers, one
which we have developed from our extensive
ethnographic and survey research on
charitable giving and which we call the
Download Paper (PDF).
4) "The Modern Medici: Patterns, Motivations,
and Giving Strategies of the Wealthy." Paul
G. Schervish. This paper addresses three
aspects of the relationship between wealth
and philanthropy. Download
5) "The Moral Biography of Wealth:
Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation
of Philanthropy." Paul G. Schervish.
Published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
Quarterly. Volume 35, No. 3, pp. 466-492.
September 2006. Places the notion of a moral
biography of wealth in historical context and
suggests how advancement professionals can
deepen their own moral biography by working
to deepen the moral biography of their
6) "The Sense and Sensibility of Philanthropy
as a Moral Citizenship of Care." Paul G.
Schervish, (2005) Good Intentions: Moral
Obstacles and Opportunities, David H. Smith
(editor) Indiana University Press. The
leading question of this paper is how to
understand the moral dimensions of
philanthropy as a spiritual sense and
sensibility. The purpose is to elaborate a
modestly integrated analysis of several
aspects of philanthropy that make it a
morally oriented behavior in the lives of