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Business Owners Give Abundantly and Altruistically

SunTrust survey reveals high net worth business owners are attracted to philanthropies that ignite their passion, demonstrate good stewardship

Jun 11, 2008

For business owners, personal passion -- not personal reward -- drives philanthropic involvement, according to a survey released today by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management. The national study surveyed over 200 high net worth business owners, whose companies have at least $10 million in annual revenue, about their philanthropic involvement and motivation.

Business owners cite "helps make a positive change" as the top reason for charitable giving. Nearly three-fourths of respondents say satisfying their personal moral beliefs drives their philanthropic impulses. And fewer than half say they give to receive tax credits; to bring positive attention to their business; to network; to establish a legacy; or to gain recognition.

"The survey shows that when it comes to philanthropy, business owners are genuinely concerned about affecting change," says Dave Johnston, Senior Vice President, SunTrust Private Wealth Management. "This research confirms what SunTrust has observed through our long-standing commitment to serving business owners. Their generosity is rooted in a desire to give back to the community."

Generous personally and professionally

High net worth business owners are a generous group. Virtually all the business owners surveyed have made a charitable donation personally (96%) and through their business (79%). On average, in 2007 they report having donated over a quarter of a million dollars to charitable causes through their businesses and $78,000 personally or as families.

  -- Seven in 10 agree that "even if there is an economic downturn that
     moderately affects my business, I plan to keep my current level of
     nonprofit or charitable giving in the coming year."
  -- They are "charity multipliers," in that more than half encourage
     employees to donate time and/or money to company charities. And one in
     three say they will match donations made by employees.
  -- Their generosity extends beyond simply giving money. Business owners
     are a critical component of the nonprofit world as members of nonprofit
     boards. About half (47%) of respondents sit on the board of a
     philanthropic organization, particularly those that focus on
     -- religious concerns (21%),
     -- arts/culture (18%),
     -- children's needs (18%),
     -- healthcare issues (17%).

"Business owners are extending their generosity beyond donations and board or event involvement," explains Johnston. "Many recognize the importance of planning for the future by incorporating philanthropy into their financial plans with the inclusion of nonprofits in their wills, engaging in planned giving and establishing family foundations."

In fact, over one-third (36%) have incorporated philanthropic giving into their financial plan. Among them, a number have written nonprofit organizations into their will (53%), set up planned giving (45%), and established a private or family foundation (44%).

Great expectations

When business owners provide financial or in-kind support, they often expect to see good stewardship and results. Nearly half (48%) say they "have regretted making nonprofit or charitable contributions to certain organizations that did not spend my money wisely." An equal number of business owners say they have withheld money from an organization because of concern "the funds would not have been used wisely."

"Business owners approach philanthropic opportunities in much the same way they approach business opportunities," Johnston continues. "For them, it is important that the philanthropies they support are fiscally sound, so they can trust their contributions make a positive change."

SunTrust conducted the survey with GfK Roper Public Affairs to better understand what is on the minds of business owners. The Bank's Commercial and Private Wealth Management lines of business have formed a strategic partnership, through the Business Owner Specialty Group, to address the unique business and personal financial complexities faced by this elite group.


GfK Roper Public Affairs was commissioned by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management to better understand the philanthropic habits of high net worth business owners. An online survey was conducted to reach this elite group. In total, 202 business owners whose companies have at least $10 million in revenue were surveyed. All interviews were self-administered using GfK's proprietary web-based platform. Respondents were drawn from GfK's online panel. The random sample was conducted in March 2008.

About SunTrust

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of March 31, 2008, SunTrust had total assets of $179.0 billion and total deposits of $116.2 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is

About GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media

GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media is a division of GfK Custom Research North America. The division specializes in customized public opinion polling, media & communications research, and corporate reputation measurement -- in the US and globally. In addition to delivering a broad range of customized research studies, GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media draws from GfK's syndicated consumer tracking services, GfK Roper Reports® US and GfK Roper Reports® Worldwide, which monitor consumer values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in the US and more than 25 other countries.

Securities and Insurance Products and Services * Are not FDIC or any other Government Agency Insured * Are Not Bank Guaranteed * May Lose Value

SunTrust Private Wealth Management Business Owner Specialty Group is a marketing name used by SunTrust Banks, Inc. and the following affiliates: Banking and trust products and services are provided by SunTrust Bank. Securities, insurance and other investment products and services are offered by SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a registered broker/dealer and a member of the FINRA and SIPC, and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., a registered broker/dealer and a member of the NYSE, FINRA and SIPC. Capital markets and investment banking services are provided by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey is the trade name for the corporate an investment banking services of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by SunTrust Insurance Services, Inc., a licensed insurance agency. Investment advisory products and services are offered by SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., Trusco Capital Management, Inc. and GenSpring Family Offices, LLC (f/k/a Asset Management Advisors, L.L.C.), investment advisers registered with the SEC. Mr. Johnston is not affiliated with SunTrust Investment Services, Inc.

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SOURCE: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

CONTACT: Hugh Suhr of SunTrust Banks, Inc., +1-404-827-6813