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Promotion as important as donation for philanthropy, research finds

Wealthy philanthropists who are discreet about their giving could be undermining their charitable efforts, a new study examining cultural trends in philanthropy reveals.

Wealthy philanthropists who are discreet about their giving could be undermining their charitable efforts, a new study examining cultural trends in philanthropy reveals.

The first Individual Philanthropy Index, conducted by Forbes Insights and French bank BNP Paribas examining philanthropic giving in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, also found that motivating factors for giving varied across the regions studied.

The research found 63% of respondents in the Middle East were motivated to give due to their religious faith, while reasons for giving in Asia and Europe were more varied.

The main motivation driving Asia’s HNW individuals was the desire to give back – cited by 25% of respondents. In Europe, the top reasons were equally family legacy, altruistic desire and a sense of duty, with each cited by 17% of respondents.

Despite the willingness of wealthy individuals to give to charitable causes, there was a general reluctance to publicise their actions – 77% of respondents either insisted on remaining anonymous or did not actively publicise their charity.

The report said that the wealthy were often concerned their actions might be misconstrued, saying, "the promotion of one's charity may well be misunderstood as the shameless promotion of oneself".

It explained, however, that discretion might not be in the best interests of the causes they are donating to. "The progress of philanthropy will only accelerate once donors become more open about their philanthropy and promote their causes more," the report said.

Lenka Setkova, a director at Coutts private bank agreed with the report’s conclusions. She told CampdenFB: "The more philanthropists talk about what's motivated them, why they are doing it, what are the benefits to them or their families or the causes they support, the more likely it is going to encourage other philanthropists to give."

She reckoned that HNW individuals were most comfortable in forums set up specifically for philanthropists, where they could share their stories with their peers free from media attention. “They share pretty inspiring stories about what motivates them and why they got involved and people become incredibly passionate about their philanthropy," she said.

Of the three cultures surveyed, HNW individuals in the Middle East were most reluctant to publicise their giving. This, the researchers said, was because the wealthy there are bound "by the religious injunction to be discreet about one's giving".

The research surveyed 303 HNW individuals, defined as those with at least $5 million (€3.9 million) in liquid assets, between January and March this year. 

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