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“We help our clients to draw up their philanthropic project and transform it into concrete actions”

Philanthropists are people who devote all or part of their wealth (and often their time and skills) to a charitable cause. Their profile and demands have changed dramatically in recent years. What are these major changes and how does BNP Paribas Wealth Management guide philanthropists? Interview with Nathalie Sauvanet, Global Head of Philanthropy Solutions at BNP Paribas Wealth Management.

When did the philanthropy advisory activity of BNP Paribas Wealth Management first come into being?

In 2008, we created a philanthropy advisory department to help our philanthropic clients draw up their project and translate support for causes they care about into concrete actions. We were one of the first private banks in Europe to offer this kind of philanthropic strategy advisory service. We are a small team of dedicated experts: we are based in Europe (Paris) and Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong) with a network of correspondents in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Switzerland. In 2022, 63% of the private clients we advised were in Europe and 37% in Asia. Since 2008, we have advised more than 1,600 clients ;  as the number of requests has increased since the pandemic, we advise currently an average of 170 clients per year.

"TODay's philanthropists are no longer “merely” donors, they have become change makers"

What developments have you witnessed in the profile and demands of your clients?

Profiles and demands have changed significantly over the past five years, and even more so since the Covid crisis. Fifteen years ago, the typical philanthropist client was a man aged 70 to 85 who wanted to bequeath part of his assets to an association or foundation upon his death, and who was wondering which organization to donate to. Today, it is more likely to be a woman, a man, or a couple, aged 30 to 65, who wants to transform society by building lasting solutions and witness the impact of their actions in their lifetime. Today's philanthropists are therefore no longer “merely” donors, they have become change makers: they have an increasingly precise notion of the societal change which they want to achieve and often want to be involved in the project operationally, by donating their time and skills. We meet more and more “philanthropreneurs”, i.e. people who want to manage their philanthropy with methods inspired by the business world, or even private equity, by using methodologies for in-depth selection of organizations or funded projects - based on a due diligence process - impact measurement and reporting: an approach called venture philanthropy. Moreover, we still get requests from older people for whom philanthropy is a response to issues surrounding the future of their real estate, natural (forests) or movable (art collection) assets. Even if now, they often become concerned about it when they reach their sixties.

What trends are you seeing in terms of philanthropic causes?

The preservation of biodiversity is the cause that has been rising for the past 3 years: it currently represents 1 request out of 3 from our clients, mostly young people and entrepreneurs, in Europe and Hong Kong. For these profiles, the fight against social inequalities is the second major cause; in particular enabling disadvantaged children and young people to study and set up their own business. Health & medical research remains the predominant cause for clients over 70, in Europe and Asia.

Has the amount dedicated by your clients to philanthropy changed?

The figures skyrocketed with Covid: from 200,000 euros on average before the health crisis, the average amount has risen to 1 million euros. Since the start of 2023, we have even had one client each month who wishes to allocate around 10 million euros; and in the last quarter, 3 European clients allocated between 100 and 300 million euros to their philanthropic projects!

Can you describe, in concrete terms, your approach to philanthropy advisory?

Future philanthropists are introduced to us by their private banker. We have a qualitative and tailor-made consulting approach, consisting of an in-depth diagnosis and a proposal for a philanthropic strategy to carry out their project. During the initial listening and discussion phase, we help them to clarify and prioritize the cause and the beneficiaries, their objectives, their time resources, their financial capacities, the possible strategies to be implemented, etc. We then carry out an in-depth analysis of the specific issue, the organizations already existing in the field and provide details of the solutions which strike us as the most appropriate, outlining the difficulties to factor in for each, as well as the legal and tax impacts - in liaison with the experts in Wealth & Estate Planning from BNP Paribas Wealth Management. For highly specific requests, we call on external experts, lawyers, tax experts, solicitors or specialists in a particular field or geographical area. In concrete terms, the solutions we propose can be as follows: the creation of a foundation, the identification of organizations of general interest to which a donation can be made or with which to co-build a project, or even advice on developing a philanthropic structure that clients have already created and which they want to make more effective.

What feedback do you get from your clients?

We get excellent feedback from both private bankers and clients. The latter appreciate our knowledge of the field and of general interest players, our ability to understand their project and to clearly set out the possible options to bring it to fruition, while seeking the best impactTheir recommendation rate is also high since 15% come to us based on the recommendation of other BNP Paribas Wealth Management clients.


philanthropic clients advised since 2008

63 %

of the clients we advised in 2022 were in EUROPE and 37 % in ASIA

1 M€

This is the current average amount donated by our philanthropic clients, compared with 200,000 € before the covid crisis

Testimony from the philanthropist Noemie Amisse

"Philanthropy requires giving money, time, expertise and measuring the impact of the efforts made". 

Noemie Amisse, founder and director  of the AMISSE Foundation.

Read the full story

Testimony from the philanthropist Hélène Nguyen Thien

"It is important to be guided by someone who can say ‘this is feasible, this isn’t feasible’; ‘these are the possible options, this is the path we could take and here are the ideas we can explore.’ Otherwise, the dream we have will continue to be just that, a dream."

Hélène Nguyen Thien, founder and director of the Nguyen Thien Dao philanthropic Fund hosted by the King Baudouin Foundation.

Read the full story

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