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Entrepeneurial charity – Wealthy say giving is important

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A new generation of donors wants to see results for its money and wants a direct, entrepreneurial role in the charities it sponsors, the New York Times reported June 6.

“There’s a return to the Carnegie philosophy – getting engaged while you’re alive,” Eugene R. Tempel, executive director of the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, told the Times.

Donors are shifting away from established charities, Tempel said, as the public becomes increasingly skeptical of them. Today’s philanthropists, instead, seek out fresh initiatives.

Entrepreneurs are increasingly interested in efforts that blend aspects of capitalism with charitable goals, for example micro-loan programs for small businesses.

Most of the very wealthy are convinced of the importance of charitable giving, according to a recent survey by Deutsche Bank’s Bankers Trust Private Banking unit. The survey probed the attitudes of the rich – nearly all of the 112 respondents were from households whose net worth was at least $5 million.

On average, those surveyed gave $1.2 million to charity, or about a fifth of their family income, in 1997. The respondents preferred to give through their own foundation, trust or gift fund. Two-thirds reported giving through such an instrument.

Education was the most popular cause among the very wealthy, cited by 60 percent as one of the policy issues they wanted to influence. The category of poverty, inequality, hunger, affordable housing and health care for the uninsured was important to nearly half. Arts and culture was listed by only a third of the respondents, followed by family stability and economic growth.

Nearly all the survey’s respondents said they had volunteered for a favorite cause in the last three years, with 71 percent serving on a charity’s board.

For full story, go to the New York Times.

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