For many ultra-wealthy inheritors worth $100 million or more, philanthropy is a defining characteristic. It’s not just about giving and “doing good,” it’s increasingly about making a significant, positive impact. However, there’s a gap between being constructively philanthropic and being as constructively philanthropic as one would like.

The Need To Do Better
While making efforts to be philanthropic, 65.8% of 114 ultra-wealthy inheritors surveyed said they believe they can do a better job. They recognize opportunities to be more strategic and more effective. This perspective is more pervasive among individual ultra-wealthy inheritors.

Part of the problem may be that only 26.3% of the ultra-wealthy inheritors professed to have clearly defined philanthropic goals. These inheritors know what they want to accomplish and the ways they can meet their expectations. Very often, this incorporates the structures they employ, such as foundations and trusts.

More telling is that 52.6% of the 114 ultra-wealthy inheritors said they have only “directional philanthropic goals,” reflecting a lack of awareness of what specifically they want to accomplish and how. This lack of specificity is often due to a desire to keep the list of options open before drilling down into the details. Finally, 21.1% were somewhat in the dark, not yet identifying charitable causes they’re truly excited about supporting.

Connecting With Other Philanthropists
While we’ve found some extreme commitments to charitable causes among ultra-wealthy inheritors because of the monies at their command, they’re often open to additional possibilities about where to donate and the mechanics involved. Thus, 74.6% of those surveyed were interested in how other wealthy families and individuals are approaching philanthropy.

This interest in how families approach philanthropy is characteristic of ultra-wealthy inheritors in general. By and large, they’re highly motivated to understand what their peers are doing across a spectrum of activities and endeavors. By sharing with their peers, ultra-wealthy inheritors are able to expeditiously move up the learning curve.

In this scenario, as well as in many others, ultra-wealthy inheritors are more inclined than extreme wealth creators to learn from their peers. Paralleling this perspective, 69.3% of surveyed ultra-wealthy inheritors said they are highly interested in being introduced to like-minded individuals. The objective is often one or more of the following:

• To learn of interesting opportunities and possibilities.
• To access resources and expertise.
• To learn about best practices in various functional areas.

Many ultra-wealthy inheritors are actively seeking out strategies that enable them to use their fortunes to make meaningful differences. A principal way they’re looking to make a difference is to learn how their peers are approaching philanthropy.