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Stamps $33 Million, Alpert $6 Million Mark Rise in Giving

Penelope "Penny" and Roe Stamps. She recently pledged $32.5 million to the University of Michigan School of Art and Design. Source: Penelope and Roe Stamps via Bloomberg

Two weeks ago, Penelope “Penny” W. Stamps helped her alma mater, University of Michigan, with a pledge of $32.5 million to its School of Art and Design, the largest gift the school has ever received.

“I feel that I’ve made a big difference,” said Stamps, a retired interior designer, by phone. “And now its future is secure.”

Nonprofits can expect to see more giving from wealthy donors, according to the 2012 Bank of America “Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy,” published last week.

About 24 percent of the 700 donors surveyed will increase their giving in the next three to five years. About 52.4 percent said their giving will remain at current levels, and 9.4 percent say they’ll give less.

“That’s really very heartening to see,” said Claire Costello, national-philanthropic-practice executive with Bank of America Corp.’s U.S. Trust unit. “We’ve also seen a lot of people structuring their giving. Once you’ve started a foundation, you’re committed to giving it away.”

Stamps and her husband, retired private-equity specialist E. Roe Stamps IV, plan to give away more money this decade through their Stamps Family Charitable Foundation. The couple will add 400 high-achieving undergraduate students to their Stamps Scholars program by 2015. It now covers tuition and room and board costs for 300 students at more than 20 colleges and universities.

Herb Alpert

Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Herb Alpert, who has donated more than $120 million since 1988 mostly to arts charities through his foundation, said he plans to continue to give more this decade. Last month, Alpert gave $5 million to the financially troubled Harlem School of the Arts, the largest donation in its history. He pledged $30 million to the music program of the University of California at Los Angeles in 2007.

“The older you get, the more you want to give,” said Alpert, 77, who has sold more than 72 million albums during his five-decade career. “I want to see where my money is going in my lifetime.”

The study shows that the wealthiest of donors are beginning to feel more comfortable about giving to charity four years after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. A 2010 Bank of America biennial survey found that donations from the wealthy fell 35 percent to $54,016 in 2009.

In a survey this year of 100 clients counseled by the New York-based Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, 40 percent said they’re willing to increase their charitable contributions in 2012.

“The people who have the most resources, the true 1 percent, feel that the recession is already behind them, and they can be more generous,” said Melissa Berman, chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Consulting Spouses

The Bank of America study defines a high-net-worth household as having more than $200,000 in annual income or more than $1 million in net worth, excluding the value of the primary residence.

The survey also found that 48.4 percent of the sample group said donation decisions were made jointly with a spouse or partner, while in 47.5 percent of those surveyed, one individual was the final decision maker after conferring with a spouse or partner.

“People in fundraising thought about only approaching one person in the family for a gift,” Una Osili, professor of economics and director of research for the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, said by phone. “Women are now playing an increasingly important role in philanthropy.”

Stamps said she gets “great advice” on donations from her husband, a Harvard Business School graduate and co-founder of Summit Partners LP, a private-equity firm.

“My wife is the voice of reason,” Alpert said about his wife, the vocalist Lani Hall. “I’m a right-brain person. I don’t have all the information sometimes, and she points out things that I didn’t think of.”

Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine, Frederik Balfour on auctions.

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