The Philanthropic Age Divide - Readers who follow the philanthropic press should be aware of the recent rebound in giving by the wealthiest Americans, as reflected in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s (the Chronicle’s) recent summary of the top 50 donors in the United States in 2014.1

But, perhaps these individuals made wills that left their bequests much earlier in life? Apparently not so. Dr. Russell James, III, a professor at Texas Tech University, has conducted research on an ongoing study by the University of Michigan tracking 26,000 individuals every two years beginning in 1992. His findings indicate that a large percentage of those who actually include charitable gifts in their final plans indicated they didn't provide for charitable provisions in their most recent previous plans. In his report, "American Charitable Bequest Demographics,"2 he states:

In total 2/3 of donors (representing over half of all charitable estate dollars) gave a negative response to the charitable plan question at some point within five years of the date of death. This suggests that planning within the final five years prior to death is particularly critical. Combining these results with the previous findings regarding the relatively older age of decedents who generate the bulk of charitable estate gifts suggests that late life planning is critical.

Read the rest of the analysis.