In The News... | Sharpe Group
Posted October 1st, 1999

In The News…

Examining America’s most generous

Which Americans have given the most money to charity in their lifetimes? This is the question Worth magazine attempted to answer earlier this year in its April 1999 issue. And though several names we have heard in the news before such as Bill Gates and Ted Turner were listed among the top 100 American philanthropists, perhaps the most important information gleaned from the Worth research was the statistical makeup of the group as a whole.

For example, of the 100 people ranked in the study, 71 created the fortunes from which they gave while 24 inherited their wealth. Five others said their wealth was a mixture of both inherited assets and their own ventures. Therefore, over two-thirds of the most generous donors in America are entrepreneurs. (Keep in mind this study only examined completed lifetime gifts—no pledges or estate gifts were included.)

Another interesting demographic is the breakdown of the mega-givers by age. Only one person was age 100, eight were in their 90s, twenty-five were in their 80s, twenty-six were in their 70s, seventeen were in their 60s, twenty were in their 50s, and three were in their 40s. Note that fully 60% of these donors were age 70 or older and over 75% were in their 60s or older.

For more information on Worth magazine, call 1-800-777-1851 for subscriptions or see the Web at

Recent article a must-read for gift planners

Certain charitable gift planning techniques and some of those who help plan them are put under the microscope in the September 20, 1999 issue of Forbes magazine. The article, entitled “The New Giving Game,” explores several giving plans and the complex relationship between the tax advantages associated with these plans and the charitable intent of donors engaging in them.

As this potentially controversial article may be read by donors, board members, fellow staff members, and others, all persons involved in charitable gift planning efforts should examine this article and be prepared to discuss its content with interested parties.

CAE does homework on gifts to schools

The Council for Aid to Education has recently released its annual compilation of data on giving to education. Entitled 1998 Voluntary Support of Education, the CAE’s report provides statistics on institutions of higher learning as well as private elementary and secondary schools.

There is a special section providing data on bequests and deferred gifts to higher education institutions over the past 20 years. In addition, comprehensive giving statistics such as appreciated property gifts and corporate gifts are conveniently listed by institution in the second half of the report.

If you would like more information about this report, or reports from past years, please see the Voluntary Support of Education home page on the CAE Web site at

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The publisher of Sharpe Insights is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Sharpe Insights may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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