Charity challenge – Finding new strategies

The high-tech industry and new economy are making young people wealthy, and nonprofits are working hard to teach them how to be philanthropists, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 11.

Generating contributions requires fast, targeted moves, the Journal said, such as earmarking stock for charity before a company sells shares to the public, and substituting workshops about philanthropy’s return on investment for black-tie affairs.

“It’s a whole new ball game in fundraising,’ Sandra Byrd, denior vice president of development at Habitat for Humanity, told the Journal.

New millionaires “rarely come to special events,” she said, and “their attention spans are much shorter.”

And because newly wealthy young people don’t know how long they’ll have their money, she said, nonprofits shouldn’t expect long-term commitments.

New wealth hasn’t been overly philanthropic, the Journal said.

A study of local residents by the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, for example, found that 45 percent of the wealthiest contributors – those with a net worth of $1 million or more, excluding homes – give just $2,000 or less to charity each year, with only half saying they planned to give more when they get older.

And NewTithing Group in San Francisco estimates that taxpayers in the U.S. can afford to donate 70 percent more than the $144 billion total that individuals gave to charity last year.

New strategies to boost giving include efforts by venture capitalists to set aside stock for charitable contributions before their companies sell stock to the public, and the creation of “donor-advised funds” to let individuals contribute to a charity in a given year, take the allowable tax deduction but keep the right to specify at a future date where all or part of the donation goes.

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