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Interest in philanthropy among high net worth clients and enquiries about how to become involved have risen strongly over recent years, and the global shock of the Covid-19 pandemic has only reinforced this trend.

There are many reasons why people decide to start supporting philanthropic causes, but one important motivation is growing interest among investors in related areas such as sustainability and impact investing. Philanthropy is now one of three central pillars of Julius Baer’s responsible investment proposition, alongside sustainable investments, which prioritise good environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, and impact investments that seek to create financial returns along with a specific and measurable outcome.

“Philanthropy is integrated into our core wealth management offering,” says Caroline Piraud, Philanthropy Advisor. “We cover the spectrum from investments seeking a financial return to those that combine financial returns with social or environmental impact and finally philanthropy, where it’s all about the social return.”

Many motivations

There are numerous triggers that prompt people to become involved in philanthropy – from an inheritance, to the sale of a company or a crisis such as Covid-19. Equally, those that are drawn to philanthropy are looking for different things. Some are passionate about a specific cause or causes. Others know they want to give but are unsure about the causes they should choose. Some just want to provide funding and leave it at that. Others – usually those with more assets to deploy – want to be deeply involved in every stage of the process.

Whichever group the client falls into, the first stage is always to explore their personal values, their motivation for philanthropic giving, and discussing the causes that are close to their heart. This is critical because in every case, the goal is to help them achieve the greatest possible social return which at the same time increases their happiness quotient when they can realise the impact their engagement has created. And this only happens when people are supporting causes that are aligned with their values and keeping focused on a limited number of organisations.

As an organisation that sees philanthropy as part of its core offering, Julius Baer has its own charitable foundation, established in 1965, that focuses on initiatives to reduce wealth inequality and search for ways to replace or re-use plastics. Clients who share our commitment to these causes and want a “light-touch” involvement can co-invest alongside the foundation in its chosen philanthropic projects around the world.

Seven steps

For those, on the other hand, who want to support their own causes or are seeking deeper engagement, Julius Baer’s philanthropy advisory team has developed a seven-step process that it likens to embarking on a journey.

This focuses on:

  1. Why the client wants to embark on this journey.
  2. Where they want to go and the organisations that are best equipped to help them achieve their social return.
  3. The plan they will follow and the resources they will need.
  4. What tools will be required, including the best governance structure and specialist advice.
  5. How they will ensure their journey is sustainable and will not be undermined by conflicts between their other investments and their philanthropic objectives.
  6. How they will monitor progress and impact, and ensure they remain on course.
  7. And what milestones they will aim for and whether the next generation will continue the journey they have started.

In helping people drawn to philanthropy answer those questions, we leverage our large network of approved service providers that span every part of the philanthropic journey, from philanthropy experts to legal and tax specialists around the globe. We make this network freely available to financial intermediaries so that they can access the same pool of expertise that we draw on ourselves to help our clients decide on their destination and plan how to get there.