A recent study of almost 4,000 probated Australian estates sheds light on the mindset of the typical Australian bequest donor. Conducted by the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, “Encouraging Charitable Bequests by Australians” was published in 2014 by Swinburne University of Technology. Some of the more interesting observations and findings include:
- People tend to respond to queries about charitable giving with a “socially desirable” response—more how they think they should respond than how they actually do.
- Making a decision to include a charitable bequest is often associated with self-reflection on life history and mortality and the desire to be remembered in the future.
- The average age at death of the bequest donors in this study was 81.4 years. Nearly 30 percent were 90 years or older. Less than 10 percent were under 60.
- Charitable bequests made as a specific dollar value were significantly smaller than residual gifts left after providing for loved ones.
- $7,000 was the median for specific bequests.
- $200,000 was the median for residual bequests.
- The first baby boomers were born in 1946. Based on current estimates, this generation will begin to pass on in large numbers in the late 2030s and will not represent a major source of bequest income for another 20 years.
Even though Australia is half a world away, the charitable bequest behavior of its population is remarkably similar to that seen in the United States and the United Kingdom.