Doing well at doing good: Why there's more to giving than checkbook philanthropy

UBS.com standard player for video. This player is also used in CQ5.

Most investors happily embrace—and act on—the impulse to give back. But a survey of high net worth investors reveals a common thread of uncertainty about the effectiveness of their donations. The latest issue of UBS Investor Watch yields surprising insights into why and how givers give—and how gender and age may shape their approach to philanthropy.

Highlights

Virtually everyone gives—but very few believe their giving is effective. In the past year, nine out of ten millionaires have either volunteered or donated. But for many, “giving back” means writing checks—typically to an assortment of causes. Only one out of five givers considers their approach highly effective.

Women and men approach giving differently. Men are motivated by a sense of personal responsibility, while women are more likely to lead household decisions on giving, volunteer their time and donate to causes they're passionate about.

Millennials are redefining philanthropy. Contrary to fitting the stereotype of being lazy or self-centered, Millennials as a group are more engaged with philanthropy than their Boomer parents. They are also more intent on aligning investing, purchasing and career decisions with their core values. In fact, Millennials' behavior points to the future of philanthropy.

Thoughtful planning drives confidence in giving.  The uncertainty about the effectiveness of giving is significantly lessened when people take a planned approach. By incorporating philanthropic strategies into their plans, they can optimize their giving and feel that it has greater impact. Although few people currently receive advice from their financial advisor about giving, those who do are much more satisfied with the impact of their giving.