The typical ultra-high net worth (UHNW) philanthropist donates $25 million over the course of their lifetime, according to a new study, more than 10 percent of their net worth.
The Wealth-X and Arton Capital Major Giving Index, which tracks trends in UHNW charitable giving, rose to 220 in 2013 - the highest level since the global financial crisis, and only 12 points below the all-time high of 232 set in 2006.
The average UHNW has a net worth of $240 million and is 64 years old, according to the Wealth-X and Arton Capital Philanthropy Report 2014. UHNWs, which account for 0.003 percent of the world's population, hold 13 percent of the world's total wealth.
On average, American households donate $3,000 annually to charity, the report said.
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"Globally, we are witnessing an evolution of philanthropy as it expands from 'traditional' philanthropy - involving financial contributions and donations - to cutting-edge approaches such as venture philanthropy, micro finance, impact investing and job creation," said Mykolas Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X.
"Ultra-wealthy philanthropists are increasingly focusing on philanthropic initiatives that provide long-term solutions by enabling the less fortunate to seize opportunities through entrepreneurialism, and using their own business acumen to measure the effectiveness of their philanthropic endeavors and to maximize their returns," he said.
Charity takes a new form
Rising income inequality has made the evolution in UHNW philanthropic approach even more important, the report said.
"There is demand that UHNW individuals help ensure other individuals can have access to opportunities and jobs that enable them to claim their share of wealth," it said.
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Recent outbreaks of social unrest around the world have a few unifying themes: youth discontent, lack of jobs, financial insecurity and a perceived unfairness in terms of access to opportunities. As a consequence, jobs that have real economic returns can be a key factor in alleviating unrest and improving socio-economic conditions.
"It is not enough to help fund new schools, fund access to digital technology or provide sufficient nourishment if it does not lead to longer-term, lasting improvements to socioeconomic conditions. Individuals with education but no opportunities will not be lifted out of poverty: they need access to opportunities for employment in wealth-generating projects," the report said.
Increasing focus on social investments has led to the rise of venture philanthropy and impact investing.
Venture philanthropy focuses on long-term projects that must show efficiency throughout their life cycles: milestones must be met and the project must exhibit returns and generate income. Any profit is then typically reinvested into the project, creating a self-sustaining funding cycle.
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Impact investing takes many forms, from social bonds to environmentally-conscious ventures and healthcare projects. Each investment is expected to generate a positive return, the amount of which can be reinvested year after year.
"This differs from the finite nature of some charitable family foundations, regardless of their initial size. The overall return of impact investing can thus, potentially, equal or even surpass that of traditional philanthropic endeavors," the report said.
Impact investments, such as social impact bonds, will account for 1 percent of professionally managed assets within the next ten years, according to the report.