Life Changing Moments

17 Apr 2012

By Shadforth Financial Group

Life changing moments seem to be key factor in the decision to donate money to charity, according to new research by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at the Queensland University of Technology.

Claimed to be the largest Australian study into why people give and set up charitable trusts, 'Foundations for giving: why and how Australians structure their philanthropy' is based on the interviews of 40 people who had each set up philanthropic structures.

According to lead researcher Dr Wendy Scaife, the study found that decisions to set up foundations often came from people taking stock of what life and money was about, closing chapters in their lives such as moving on from business careers, or windfall events such as gaining an inheritance.

"People also want their life experience to be of use to others so they channel not just money but energy and contacts into something that's important to both the community and to themselves, be that medical research, the arts, Indigenous needs, education - their personal passion," Dr Scaife said.

Dr Scaife said that there were a variety of structures to enable people to give and the one they chose depended upon how much money they were giving, the time they had available and how involved they wanted to be in making grants.

She said the research showed those who set up foundations were often more engaged with their giving and gave larger, more consistent and considered donations than they previously would have done.

"Studies have identified that Australians who plan their giving donate four times as much as spontaneous givers," she said.

At present there are more than 5,000 charitable foundations operating in Australia, including individual charitable trusts, corporate trusts, endowment sub-funds in trustee companies and community foundations.

The details of the study were presented by Dr Scaife at the Fundraising Institute of Australia's annual fundraising conference held on the Gold Coast in February.

It is common for would-be philanthropists to be unsure of how to make the leap from ad hoc donations to sustainable giving.

The best advice for people considering a more structured approach to their giving is to be clear about the outcomes they are seeking and to get advice on creating a structure that will help them achieve their goals.

To find out more, speak with your Shadforth adviser or one of our specialist Philanthropic Services team.

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