A New Approach
Although The Seven Faces of Philanthropy is written primarily to help fundraisers, it is also a fascinating description of the diversity of perspectives people have when it comes to philanthropy.
Instead of a one-size-fits all approach to fundraising, the book proposes seven unique philanthropic personalities. These seven ‘faces’ are broken down in terms of motivations and expectations surrounding charitable giving. Here are the key identifiers of each personality:
- Communitarians – Local is the key word here. For Communitarians, giving money to organizations based in their community just makes sense. Relationships from work are key in shaping both their desire to give and the practicals of where and how they do it.
- Devout – For the devout, giving is a moral imperative. Their faith commitment is key in shaping both why, where and how the devout give. Their religious community is also often a key source of information about giving as well as a recipient of donations.
- Investors – For investors, giving is viewed the same as any other business investment. It is important for them to see a return on their investment, either in personal tax benefits or other less tangible ones. In selecting a recipient of their giving, they often choose organizations that are efficient and focused on results.
- Socialites – For Socialites, giving isn’t an individual decision, but rather a way to do good together with friends. Through organizing and/or attending charity events, giving plays a large role in the social life and self-identity of Socialites.
- Altruists – Like the Devout, Altruists believe deeply that giving is a moral imperative for everyone. However, unlike the devout, this belief is played out in a very individual way. For Altrusits, charitable giving is a key part of their self-identity and development as a person. Additionally, they place a high priority on the motivation for giving being pure and selfless.
- Repayers – For Repayers, the motivation and direction of giving is specifically tied to one’s personal history. They, or someone close to them, have benefited from the work of an organization, and as they become able they give back to the same organization or cause.
- Dynasts – A family tradition of giving is the key motivator for Dynasts and determines their reasons for and methods of giving. They were raised to view giving as something that everyone participates in. Thus Dynasts approach it with careful thought and preparation, even if their approach differs from their family.
Now let’s take a look at how this information applies to the China context.
1) A New Kind of Guanxi
To apply the Seven Faces framework to fundraising, the book suggests identifying and cultivating donors through strategies tailored to each philanthropic personality. The main strategy is to take advantage of “charity networks” with the understanding that personal and professional networks are more effective in generating support than public campaigns. For China, the deeply ingrained concept of guanxi already fits in well with this strategy. Research also shows that an individual’s personal referrals and recommendations are made more credible by their status.
For Chinese philanthropists, who are naturally well networked, these findings show a great potential to generate incredible support for charitable work. As opposed to a public, open call for the rich to commit to individual giving (like the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge), a concerted, private-networks focused push for philanthropy among middle to high net worth individuals in China would probably be much more effective in motivating potential donors.
One option could be through giving circles, in which a group of people commits to giving together, either through pooling money and giving communally or individually giving to places the group decides upon together. Although this strategy does require strong leadership and greater participation than other forms of charitable giving, research has shown it increases giving and donor involvement in the social sector for the long haul. Giving circles as a philanthropic strategy have yet to really be tried in China (although they have been well received by the Asian American community), but they have a lot of potential for mobilizing donors and making an impact.
2) New categories?
While all of the seven philanthropy personalities exist in China, the percentages are much different due to the status of charitable giving and the culture. For example, Socialites, the Devout, and Investors as described in the book, are all fewer in China than the US.
A Socialite in the US is someone whose networks and activities are centered on charitable events. Although social networks are stronger in China, such events are significantly fewer (for now) so this personality type has not developed. Similarly,the Devout represent, who represent 21 percent of US citizens, are smaller in number because many Chinese do not align with any religion.
For the Investor (15 percent) personal financial considerations are the main factors that motivate their spending. In China there are some tax benefits for charitable giving, but they are harder to receive and not smaller than those in the US.
Finally – Dynasts, the smallest category in the US (8 percent), is the personality with the most potential for growth in China. It is normal for Chinese to leave money to their children when they pass away, and there are more and more high net worth individuals who have the ability to do just that. As we’ve blogged before, among those listed in the Hurun Rich List for 2009, only one percent inherited their wealth. But with an over 300 percent increase in the number of known RMB billionaires in the past year alone, the percentage second generation wealthy will definitely increase in coming years.
So, what kind of philanthropist are you?
Interested in discovering what kind of philanthropist you are and what that says about your giving personality? SVG has developed a quiz to help you find out. Email us for more information.