How to Help a Philanthropist Give ... and Give ... and Give ...

Research on the needs of new and emerging philanthropic donors

In 1999 and 2000, The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), Boston, carried out research to develop strategies to help the philanthropic community inform, educate, strengthen and motivate new and emerging philanthropic donors.

The project was an outgrowth of a February 1999 meeting of national foundations—including RWJF—convened by TPI to discuss the needs of new and emerging philanthropic donors for information, training and service.

Key Results

Based on survey results, TPI staff prepared a report, What's a Donor To Do? The State of Donor Resources in America Today, which set out a framework that categorized donors into three stages based on their experience and engagement with philanthropy:

  • Stage 1—Dormant but Receptive. This donor is willing to make gifts if asked, but is basically passive; philanthropy is not a big part of his or her life. Most new and emerging philanthropic donors fall into this category.

  • Stage 2—Engaged, Getting Organized. This donor is more connected to giving and may have established a management/transactional vehicle, e.g., a donor advised fund or even a foundation. While considerably fewer in number than Stage 1 donors, this group is growing quickly.

  • Stage 3—Committed, Becomes a Learner. Philanthropy has become a major part of this donor's life, and he or she is committed to "making a difference."