Some Thoughts on Rockefeller’s “Giving While Living” Survey

January 27, 2020

Of all the factors that go into creating a philanthropic legacy, central to it all is the “time horizon” for that legacy. According to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, roughly two thirds of legacy-minded philanthropists opt for their philanthropy to last in-perpetuity; the other third choose a time-limited approach in which the dollars of a legacy fund are spent down or spent out within a fixed period of time.

That said, a recent survey of two hundred wealthy families conducted by Rockefeller found that the time-limited approach – sometimes called “giving while living” – is gaining in popularity. Philanthropy News Digest explains that the time-limited approach has risen in popularity since 2000, with key motivations including, “to see the impact of their giving during their lifetime (30 percent); to increase the impact of their giving by focusing it on a specific interest area (23 percent); and to transfer more of their wealth to good causes sooner rather than later (17 percent).”

These findings track with what we experience at the Community Foundation of New Jersey. Of newly-created legacy funds we host on behalf of families and individuals, a majority have clear timelines for granting out their dollars. We go a step further and ask what we consider to be the top three questions that help families design both the vision and the implementation of their legacies:

  1. Where are the communities and/or regions you want to benefit?
  2. What charities and/or causes should your legacy giving support?
  3. How long should your philanthropy legacy last?

With answers to these three questions, we can best steward an individual’s or family’s philanthropic legacy and ensure their goals are met. Crafting a charitable legacy can be both a challenging and a rewarding process. It is a unique opportunity to remember your family and preserve your impact on a cause or community for generations.

Contact us with questions on how best to capture your values and goals for your philanthropic legacy.