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New Survey Report: Global Trends and Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy 2022

July 20, 2022

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors published its second biennial “Global Trends and Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy” report. This is the only global survey of philanthropy of its kind.

In an analysis of responses from 150 philanthropies from 30 countries, RPA found that the global challenges of 2020 and 2021 led over one-third of them to accelerate their spending and several more to consider revising their philanthropic timelines.

This study expands on RPA’s previous research in 2019 and 2020 to understand the factors that affect a philanthropy’s consideration in choosing the length of time for which it will remain active. With the advent of COVID-19, socio-economic uncertainty, and rising geopolitical tensions, the responses help illuminate how and why philanthropic organizations make important decisions, including those about funders’ philanthropic timeframes.

Education, community and economic development, and health are top programmatic priorities overall. When comparing differences among the time horizons, “political, civil, and human rights” was cited as the third leading area of programmatic focus among those considering a time-limited model, fourth for time-limited respondents and fifth for in-perpetuity organizations.

Notably, “political, civil, and human rights” was not among top five programmatic priorities in the 2020 survey, Strategic Time Horizons: A Global Snapshot of Foundation Approaches. This significant change potentially reflects how philanthropy responded to societal challenges of 2020-2021.

The survey also reveals funder motivations, priority issues how families engage the next generation, and more. Some of the significant findings include:

  • Just over three-quarters of all respondents (76%) cited a desire to influence social change as their top motivation for philanthropic giving; nearly two-thirds (64%) wanted “to give back to society” and over half (57%) cited “urgent need” as a motivating factor.
  • Although in-perpetuity remained the dominant time horizon for a significant majority of respondents (74%), results show a growing adoption of time limited philanthropy in the past two decades.
  • Over half (54%) of the family-led foundations in the survey report being led by the second generation of the family.

The time horizon chosen by a philanthropy has significant implications beyond the operations of that organization. The decision between “giving while living” and in perpetuity directs a funder’s approaches, resource allocation, issue areas, and relationships with the greater ecosystem of beneficiaries and partners.

“Time is as critical to philanthropy’s impact as are resources. Faced with urgent economic, justice and climate crises around the world, funders are accelerating philanthropy for a just world,” said Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa A. Berman. “This global survey illustrates willingness to reimagine what philanthropy can achieve by adjusting the time horizon of giving.”

“As the philanthropy sector as a whole continues to become more strategic, we expect more and more organizations to consider their planned time horizons with a degree of intentionality similar to that with which they approach their programmatic areas and partnerships,” noted RPA Director of Thought Leadership, Olga Tarasov.

This survey, designed and conducted by RPA with the support of NORC at the University of Chicago This is the only global survey about philanthropy of its kind.

Responding organizations were most commonly family-led philanthropies or independent or privately endowed foundations. Fewer were corporate foundations (11%), community-based foundations (11%), or private business vehicles (3%). Twelve percent classified their organization as ‘other’.

For an executive summary or copy of the report click here.

To watch a recording of the launch webinar that highlighted key findings from the report, click below:


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