Looking Back on 10 Years of Advising Philanthropists: Interview with Nathalie Sauvanet
What types of projects are supported by philanthropy?
N.S. Philanthropy concerns all areas of general interest: social, culture, environmental. The causes supported can be highly diverse: education, promoting contemporary art, women’s rights, helping children in distress, fighting climate change, protecting cultural heritage, assisting disadvantaged communities, etc.
The projects are also extremely varied: improving the autonomy and quality of life of elderly people and people with chronic illnesses, helping young people to integrate society professionally and socially, and offering scholarships to young artists. It is important to learn about the challenges and issues specific to the cause selected, as well as the different options for taking action to determine your scope of intervention.
Do today’s philanthropists have a similar profile to those of ten years ago?
N.S. The profile of our customers has changed. Often arranged through a will in the past, philanthropic actions are now increasingly made during the philanthropist’s lifetime. These philanthropists include, for example, business leaders who want to redistribute a portion of the fruit of their success, or people without heirs who are concerned about the future of their wealth.
For a good number of the philanthropists we meet, improving the lives of others is a state of mind that gets passed down from generation to generation: philanthropy becomes a family value of consistency and transmission. Family wealth holders want to share with their children, or close relatives, the value of giving to others. Philanthropy offers educational value, to the point where some people plan to give a quarter, half, or even most of their wealth to a foundation, rather than leaving it to heirs.
We have also noted an increasing number of “philanthropreneurs”. Following the Anglo-Saxon example, more and more entrepreneurs in Europe and Asia are opting for a philanthropic approach inspired by finance methods, in particular venture capital. This demonstrates their commitment not only at the financial level, but also their willingness to use their skills and professional networks to help their causes. They are looking for efficiency and generally evaluate the “social return on investment”. The younger generation of entrepreneurs is particularly open to using hybrid methods for greater efficiency and global impact.
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How does BNP Paribas Wealth Management define philanthropy?
N.S. The word “philanthropy” can be etymologically traced to Greek terminology - phílos ánthrôpos: the love of humanity.
For BNP Paribas Wealth Management, philanthropy entails any action our customers want to take in the interest of the common good, whether in the form of financial support, time or the donation of real or personal property. We work alongside them to provide effective, tailored philanthropy advisory services. We have also developed partnerships with national foundations for our customers who prefer a turnkey solution to donation.
We are thrilled that the number of our customers who decide to contribute to the common good has increased regularly since the launch of our activity in 2008. This encouraged us to create a network of philanthropy correspondents across Europe (now in France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland and Switzerland). Then, starting in 2014, we formed teams of specialists in Asia and the United States.
We also want to develop knowledge and skills by carrying out studies, promoting meetings and events where customers can exchange experiences, such as our “Impact Journey” evening on 4 June, which celebrated the tenth year of the Philanthropy Prize.