Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper dated
December 23, 1998. All rights reserved.
Baby Boomers as Donors: Giving Time and Money
As baby boomers get old enough and rich enough to be
philanthropists, they are giving money away in a very responsible
way. That’s what Harry O’Mealia concludes from a survey just
released by Manhattan-based Financial Market Research.
O’Mealia is president and CEO of U.S. Trust Company of New Jersey,
headquartered on Vaughn Drive. In order to better understand its own
customers, U.S. Trust commissions the semi-annual surveys to poll
affluent Americans. Both the survey respondents and the customers
of U.S. Trust fit the category of having either an adjusted gross
income of more than $225,000 annually or a net worth greater than
$3 million. The private bank then publishes the results as a
to sociological and economic discourse.
"I was wondering how much of it is children of the ’60s coming
into the years when they can start to give back. That was a generation
that was very concerned with improving the world. As these people
become 40 and 45 year olds, they are a generous people," says
O’Mealia, citing Ted Turner as one of the generous ones,
a billion dollars to the U.N."
A self-professed "tail-end baby boomer," O’Mealia was a
history major at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1976.
were the kids in high school when the real activists were in
says O’Mealia. After getting law and business degrees from Boston
College and Columbia, respectively, he ran the family business (a
New Jersey-based billboard firm) after his father died, and then
law and worked for J.P. Morgan, starting a private bank, before being
hired for the Princeton office of the trust company.
U.S. Trust charges a maximum of one percent of funds under management;
it has 53 employees at 5 Vaughn Drive, including 8 portfolio managers,
12 people who work with law and accounting firms to help clients with
long term wealth plans, plus researchers and personnel in its private
bank. It opened an 8.5-person office in Morristown (O’Mealia commutes
between Morristown and Princeton).
A startling 25 percent of all personal giving, $27 billion, comes
from the affluent. The methodology of the survey involved 150
telephone interviews with individuals who had a total gross household
income of at least $225,000. The recruiting list consisted of randomly
generated listed telephone numbers within zip codes known for high
median househould incomes. The respondents were equally divided
men and women, and 63 of the 150 respondents had incomes of from
to $400,000, with 26 making more than that. Half of them were married
and had never been divorced, and more than half (88) were over 40.
One fifth were self-employed or owners of small businesses. One sixth
were or had been in the financial industry, and the next largest
category was health care. Half had two or more children.
The affluent people who responded to this survey appear to have made
their own fortunes. "Most of them have humble backgrounds,"
says O’Mealia. "They want the same drive, values, and enjoyment
passed down to their kids. There’s a sort of messianic quality to
the achievers, to share their good fortune in a way that others will
take up the torch and do the same thing."
The question of why people give money to charity and do volunteer
work hit home to him. "A lot of the parents felt that one of the
major reasons that they contribute to charity, whether money or time,
is to help instill a certain set of values in their children,"
"That really struck a chord with me that that is an important
thing to do for our kids. My wife and I feel very strongly about
says O’Mealia. She works at a shop that donates proceeds to Bonnie
Brae, a school for at risk children, and he serves on various boards
(the advisory board of Zap Rap, which provides remedial education
programs for teens on ethics and moral issues, and the Garden State
Cancer Center) and coaches ice hockey and lacrosse teams on which
his four children are playing (one of the daughters is playing
boys’ high school ice hockey).
"I am a very big believer in team sports as one way of teaching
people how to move toward a common goal. I have been on great teams
and terrible teams and have learned a lot from both," says
"how to support people in good times and bad and how to accomplish
Baby boomers are also smart givers. "They look at charities the
way they look at businesses, and judge the quality of management.
They go through a business analysis," says O’Melia. Here is what
affects the affluent giving patterns:
of stock market gains, the wealthy had increased their contributions
to religious groups and charities by 62 percent. This survey showed
that the upswing encouraged 70 percent of those surveyed to increase
their giving, but 49 percent will cut back on their contributions
if the stock market turns sour.
and 65 percent respond to government spending cuts. Sixty-nine percent
simply believe they should share their good fortune, and 79 percent
want to support good causes.
contribute if their contributions were not tax deductible, but 41
percent said their contributions would be smaller. "There is an
ingrained principlein this gorup that says I should give something
back," says O’Mealia.
volunteer their time as well as their money, and they average 17 hours
a month. The majority devote their efforts to healthcare/medical
or cultural organizations. Education and religion are second. The
least popular (less than 25 percent) are athletics, public affairs,
environment, and animal welfare.
when a business associate asks for money. Also low on the scale are
pressure from acquaintences or the desire to get respect and
But 75 percent respond to efficiency (when the organization uses the
time or money effectively), and 29 percent want an ability to get
involved or see some direct impact.
the community where they live.
One way in which these philanthropists are not so smart — or maybe
a little bit lazy — is that they don’t often use techniques and
tools to ratchet up the value of their gifts. stat tk. "If you
ask the universities and the Ys and the United Way, there are tools
to maximize the value of your gifts to your favorite charities, gifts
of low basis stock, the use of vehicles such as foundations, and
"We have had an exceptional run here," says O’Mealia. "The
market has taken care of a lot of concerns about `Will I have
He admits that he is talking about the top one percent of people in
the nation. "These people are not giving away their eating
And when they are volunteering their time, they aren’t doing that
on top of having to hold down two jobs. "But people are choosing
areas to commit time and money and whatever other resources they can
commit for the betterment of society."
Those who serve on municipal and nonprofit boards labor
in relative obscurity. They do not get the grateful smiles of the
hungry who have been fed, the sick who have been tended, or the
who have performed. Mostly, they get aggravation and arguments from
A new foundation, honoring the late Princeton Borough Council member
Sandra Starr, aims to give awards to unsung community leaders.
"The foundation will be concerned with civic issues in this area
alone, encouraging young people in their 20s and 30s to become
says Paul Starr, her husband. "Look around and you don’t
see people at that age attending meetings and sitting on boards."
(His comment was made even before resignations were announced of
Borough councilman Mark Freda, 42, and Princeton Township
Michelle Tuck-Ponder, 40, both of whom cited family
Paul Starr recalls the "extraordinary" collective talent that
served with his wife when she was on the Board of Public Health.
that board was the former dean of a school of public health, a
and a pediatrician, and Sandra had two degrees in public health. No
one was aware that these people were working hard for their
He remembers that Sandra found it difficult to recruit people to serve
on boards and commissions. "With two-career families, it is not
easy for people to make the commitment," says Starr. The
is sometimes known as the "third shift" syndrome. "She
had a job. She had four children. And she concerned herself with the
community in the evening. But there are great rewards and great
The community needs those people to do it, and they need to be given
the respect. That’s why we have the awards."
The Sandra Starr Awards for Community Leadership will recognize people
under 40 who have contributed significantly to public life and
improvement in the Princeton-Mercer area. Another foundation award,
this one not defined by a particular age group, will honor Margen
Penick, who died just a few days before Starr passed away. The
Penick award will be for contributions to planning, design, and the
Sandra Starr’s most recent public service was as a member of Princeton
Borough Council; she died at age 44 on October 1. The foundation has
received nearly 100 contributions amounting to more than $10,000,
and her husband has made an initial commitment to the foundation of
$100,000 over five years. As an operating foundation, it will not
accept proposals for grants but will apply for grants from other
to support specific projects. Starr describes it as a "a
oriented leadership development and policy foundation at the community
"The Foundation hopes to do, on a small, local level, what some
think tanks do on a larger national scale," says Starr. He
to name a national organization after which this one might be modeled,
noting that might suggest a false association with a particular one.
But he does offer an example on the opposite side of the political
spectrum, the conservative Heritage Foundation. In addition to the
awards, the foundation will also support a publication series, a
(http://epn.org/ssf.html), and two annual conferences.
The first conference, entitled "Beyond the Sleepy College Town:
The Future of the Greater Princeton Community," will be held on
Saturday, April 24 (the morning of Princeton’s Communiversity Day);
it will address the long-term social and economic trends affecting
the Princeton-Mercer area over the next 25 years. In late fall 1999
there will be a workshop on community issues and leadership skills
for people serving in public office or active in community
"In the months before she died we looked at pictures from her
youth. When she was 12 she was raising money for the American Cancer
Society," says Starr. "She was always involved in activities
of that kind. When I met her, she was trying raise money for a ship
to pick up the Vietnamese "boat people." She had the idea that
if they could sell the movie rights they could get the money. She
was always looking for innovative ways in order to meet some
Sandra Starr was born in Los Angeles, where her father was a public
health administrator, and earned a music degree at the University
of California at Davis, and two master’s degrees in public health
from University of California at Berkeley. At the time of her death
she was the research director of the New Brunswick-based Association
of Community Health Plans (nonprofit HMOs). Paul Starr, an alumnus
of Columbia and Harvard, teaches sociology of Princeton University,
co-founded the journal "American Prospect," and is perhaps
best known for his book "Social Transformation of American
The Starrs have four children: Rebecca, 16; Olivia,
Raphael, 11; and Abigail,
The board includes Paul Starr, Ingrid Reed, Elyse Pivnick, Louise
Schiller, and Pam Hersh.
may be sent to the Law Offices of Katherine Benesch, 993 Lenox
Drive, Suite 200, Lawrenceville 08658. For information E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Paul Starr at 609-924-6992.
The foundation’s mission statement quotes folksinger Pete
"You have to do your job. You have to think about how to do your
job better. And you have to prepare someone to do your job when you
can no longer do it." The statement goes on to say: "The
Starr Foundation will not do the job of local governments,
and nonprofit community institutions, but it will try to help them
think about how to do their job better, and to develop new leaders
who can carry on their work in the future."
Donors respect charities that are well organized and
that find ways to use, not just their money, but their time. At least
those were the conclusions of the most recent survey of U.S. Trust,
as reported by Harry O’Mealia in the story above.
Just how do you do this? Rich Male offers some tips on how to
involve board members in fund raising. Male founded the Community
Resource Center, which provided leadership and training services to
more than 3,000 nonprofits nationwide. He also published the "New
Jersey Grants Guide: 1998-99" ($149, 888-2Grant9,
This comprehensive guide is invaluable for those seeking grants, but
it also provides very useful lore for donors and volunteers as well.
on time and showing specific and tangible progress on organizational
goals. Conduct educational sessions so that your board members are
constantly learning new information.
let people get to know each other, and have fun.
Ask board members to set up speaking engagements. Encourage them to
write letters, articles, or op-ed pieces as a way to gain free
Invite staff members to serve on a committee. REmind board members
to write letters to their elected representatives.
them to write personal notes on donor request letters.
business, or attend church or synagogue. They can serve as "door
openers" when you approach these places for in-kind donations.
so they don’t fall into a routine of doing the minimum.
important anniversaries and send flowers or a card. If news of a
appears in the newspaper, share it with the staff and other directors.
"Make sure that your expectations about raising money are clear
and in writing for all board members," says Male. "Board
want to raise money for a cause they care about."
Corrections or additions?
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