Philanthropy on the up among France’s wealthy

France does not have its own classification of wealthy givers like the UK’s Sunday Times Rich List, but a snapshot of the clientele of BNP Paribas’ Philanthropy Offering Department gives some idea of the changing patterns of giving among France’s rich. As both the numbers giving and the amounts given increase, so does their willingness to think about their giving and to take advice.

BNP Paribas’ international philanthropy offering was launched at the end of 2007. Since then, the number of requests for advice has doubled each year from the 30 countries where the bank is operating, a rise due primarily to French requests.

Two-thirds of clients of our Private Banking Centres (between €250,000 and €5 million) choose to give through Fondation de l’Orangerie for Individual Philanthropy (turnkey solution), to which the minimum donation is €10,000.

Wealthier clients tend to prefer the tailor-made solution: philanthropy advisory. One of the main client groups is those thinking about bequests. Usually they have no heir and are over 80. Roughly half have an idea of what they want to support, mostly medical research or children in developing countries. At first, they all want to set up their own foundation. In most cases, we help them to identify existing charities with which they can set up a specific donor programme. Since the beginning of this year, the number of these approaches has increased, with a noticeable decrease in age – many are now mid-fifties to early seventies. The size of their bequests, too, has increased dramatically. Initially, they were between €1 million and €12 million. Since the beginning of the year, they have mostly been between €100 million and €200 million.

A similar trend is evident in another main client group: successful entrepreneurs planning to sell their company. Generally between 40 and 55, they are thinking about how to spend the second part of their life and want to devote a part of it to philanthropic activity, to which they will often bring their personal skills.
Three-quarters of these clients have quite precise ideas about what they want to do, whether geographically or in a particular philanthropic area. They are likely to set up their own foundations, not with an endowment but spending in their lifetime. Again, the amounts they give are increasing.

A third important client group is those involved in family philanthropy, which is progressively emerging as a trend. They are very demanding in terms of building a family philanthropy strategy. Inspired by worldwide trends, and according to our experience, the philanthropy of wealthy French people is changing. The main reason? Realizing it’s not easy to give well!

Nathalie Sauvanet is Head of Individual Philanthropy, BNP Paribas Wealth Management. Email

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