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Milken Institute report examines Ultra-High Net-Worth Philanthropy, offers recommendations to spur giving

News Release
Milken Institute report examines Ultra-High Net-Worth Philanthropy, offers recommendations to spur giving

Washington D.C. – June 15, 2020 – The Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy released a new report analyzing the state of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) philanthropy, highlighting that much-needed capital remains accessible but unspent. Currently only 36 percent of the world’s UHNWIs, those individuals with more than $30 million in net assets, are engaged in philanthropy.

The new report, Stepping off the Sidelines: The Unrealized Potential of Strategic Ultra-High Net-Worth Philanthropy offers recommendations to encourage giving. Although more than $11 billion in charitable funding has been released to mitigate the many hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains an unprecedented amount of capital available for philanthropic purposes. And with as much as $40 trillion in family wealth expected to transfer across generations over the next two decades, the amount of capital available for philanthropy is expected to grow.

“We often hear from philanthropists that getting started can be a daunting process,” said Melissa Stevens, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. “But the issues we are seeing in light of the pandemic and civil unrest over the last few weeks are a call to action. Smart, strategic philanthropy is about taking risks, testing new ideas, focusing on root causes, and most of all, collaborating across sectors.” 

Profile of the UHNW philanthropist according to the report:

  • The U.S. is home to nearly one-third of the world’s UHNWIs, with Asia close behind. The Middle East and parts of Asia—particularly China, Japan, and Hong Kong—have seen a steep rise in their ultra-wealthy populations.

  • Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are usually male and older. Eighty-five percent of UNHW wealth is held by individuals ages 50 years and older.

  • The share of women in this population is growing. Approximately 92 percent of high-net-worth women give to charity. Among UHNW individuals below the age of 50, women account for almost one in five.

In speaking with high-net-worth donors and other experts, and analyzing the giving landscape, the report’s authors identified a number of strategies for getting started and creating sustainable impact. 

Recommendations for UHNW philanthropists:

  • Deploy the full spectrum of assets available. Sharing time, talents, and financial and social capital can be of tremendous benefit to the nonprofit sector.

  • Invest in the nonprofit sector. Building the nonprofit sector’s infrastructure, human resources, and technology capacity will allow organizations to scale effective solutions and further their impact.

  • Collaborate with others. Donors should work with other philanthropists and partner with community representatives and leaders from other sectors.

“There is an unprecedented opportunity to listen, learn and engage, and in doing so, make an impact,” added Stevens. To download a copy of the full report, please visit

Media Contact: 

Mala Persaud, [email protected], +1 202-841-9336.

About the Center for Strategic Philanthropy

The Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy advises individuals and foundations seeking to develop and implement transformational giving strategies. In addition, we provide resources and leadership to make the philanthropic landscape more effective. Our vision is for a more effective philanthropic ecosystem where dollars are spent strategically, donors realize the impact they seek, and people and the planet thrive. Visit

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities. For more information, visit