For the past decade or so planned giving folks — hell, fundraisers in general — have been citing several economic forecasts that indicate as much as $41 trillion (yes, “T”) will be inherited by Baby Boomers over the next two decades. Of course, the follow-on assumption is that if the Boomers' parents don't leave part of it to charities, the Boomers will.

One of the most cited study for this stat comes from the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. Good folks, who do interesting research.

Now, as it comes to pass, when all this money has failed to materialize on the predicted schedule — because of anti-biotics, better health care, and the gods only know what else — the naysayers step in. Fundraiser blog “Don't Tell the Donor” had a fascinating post last week (actually, almost all of his/her/their posts are fascinating and worth reading) citing a piece in Kiplinger's Personal Finance which argues that the 'mythological' $41 trillion transfer may have been overrated.

So, I guess there are now dozens or even hundreds of directors of planned giving who are clipping that post and neatly tucking it into their 'projections' files, ready to explain to their bosses or the development committee why they missed this year's numbers.

Not so fast. When in doubt I always turn to the reporting of Holly Hall of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, who, rare among the reporters I know, actually spends time thinking and interviewing folks about this sort of thing. True to form, Holly calmly reports (you may have to be a 'premium' subsciber to get the full story — it's worth it!) that it's unlikely that charities will receive the bequests they were expecting by 2017, “unless the death rate in the United States suddenly and unxepectedly soars….”

Continue reading “What's a Trillion or So $$ Among Friends?”

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