Business owners seen giving to create change

High-net-worth business owners give to charity based on their personal beliefs, not for personal reward, says a new study.

The national survey, which included 200 business owners whose companies net at least $10 million in annual revenue, was conducted by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management in collaboration with GfK Roper Public Affairs.

The top reason for giving among those surveyed was the belief that a cause “helps make a positive change,” the study says, with three-quarters of respondents saying they give to satisfy personal moral beliefs.

Fewer than half, on the other hand, reported one of a commonly-cited list of benefits like tax credits, reputation-building or networking as the motive behind their philanthropy.

Of those surveyed, 96 percent had made a personal donation, and almost eight in 10 had given through their business.

On average, they gave $250,000 in company donations and $78,000 in personal or family gifts annually.

Over one-third of survey respondents have experience making planned gifts.

Seven in 10 say they plan to maintain their current level of giving next year, even in the face of an economic downturn.

Yet business owners approach charity with the same skepticism they bring to business ventures, the report says.

Of those surveyed, almost half report regretting contributions to organizations they believed did not spend their money wisely, and an equal number say they withheld a donation for the same reason.

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