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Donors dismiss ‘philanthropist’ label

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Despite giving more than $1 million a year to nonprofits, roughly one-third of high-net-worth donors do not see themselves as philanthropists, says a survey by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania.

High-net-worth donors also rely strongly on peers for information on giving instead of asking nonprofits directly, says the survey, “‘I’m Not Rockefeller’: 33 High Net Worth Philanthropists Discuss Their Approach to Giving.”

Those donors also have a negative view of funding evaluation efforts, and find it difficult, even when they believe it is the right choice, to discontinue funding nonprofits with which they have an established relationship, the survey says.

“The good news is that these philanthropists are capable of giving much more than they do, and many acknowledge that,” Katherina Rosqueta, executive director of the center and co-author of the study, says in a statement.

“The bad news,” she says, “is that the lack of time and trusted resources mean that, despite their good intentions, many just sit on the capital because they don’t feel confident about making smart decisions.”

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy provides information and tools to allow philanthropists to determine where their gifts have the greatest impact.

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