I can’t really knock Mr. Schervish and Mr. Havens too much because their wealth transfer hysteria spurred a lot of planned giving hiring – including my current job!
But, take a look at this slide I created for a presentation I am giving on demographics for a planned giving council: Wealth Transfer Bequests Needed
If you can’t figure out how to click through to see the chart I created, the short of it is that U.S. bequest revenue according to Giving USA since 1998 (the year this whole Wealth Transfer thing began) has averaged around $20 billion a year. For Schervish and Havens’ initial projections to come true, U.S. bequest revenue will have to average $165 billion a year from 2009 through 2017.
In other words, these guys are really far off the mark on their initial projections up until 2017. Here is a quote from a Forbes article on the topic from October 2009:
“The downturn is not going to keep people from dying, and it is not going to keep a wealth transfer from occurring,” says Paul Schervish, director of The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College.
My questions to Mr. Schervish are simple. Who is going to pay for: the current deficit and bailout? social security benefits for baby boomers? longer life expectancies at higher and higher health care costs of the elderly? elder dependency hitting all time highs over the next 20 years?
In other words, how can you be so sure the baby boomers will have any money left for a wealth transfer? Yes, they will pass away. But at what cost to society and how much will be left for charities?