Charitable Giving/Philanthropy

The following is an excerpt from “More about Generosity: An Addendum to the Generosity, Social Psychology and Philanthropy Literature Reviews,” (University of Notre Dame, July 7, 2009).

Aaker, Jennifer L., and Satoshi Akutsu, forthcoming. “Why do people give: The role of identity in giving,” Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Why do people give to others? One principal driver involves one’s identity: who one is and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are malleable, involve a readiness to act, and help make sense of the world has significant implications determining whether and how much people give. Drawing on the Identity-Based Motivation model (IBM; Oyserman, 2009), we provide a tripartite framework to help advance the research on the psychology of giving.

Apinunmahakul, Amornrat., and R.A. Devlin. 2008. “Social networks and private philanthropy.” Journal of Public Economics 92(1-2):309-328.

A theoretical model is provided in which an individual’s social network enhances the consumption benefits from the public good. We find conditions under which investments in network enhancing infrastructure would encourage individuals to donate time and money to charity. An empirical investigation of the link between networks and private philanthropy is undertaken using the Canadian National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating. We find strong evidence that networks promote donations of time and money.

Apinunmahakul, Amornrat, Vicky Barham, and Rose Anne Devlin. 2009. “Charitable giving, volunteering, and the paid labor market.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 38(1):77-94.

Among the few articles that jointly determine an individual’s gifts of time and money, there exists disagreement as to whether these gifts are complements or substitutes. The authors try to shed some light on this debate by expanding the analysis of private contributions to take account of whether or not the individual is working in the paid labor market. The analysis indicates that gifts of time and money are largely complementary to each other, especially for employed individuals. The donations of employed males also appear to be crowded out by government expenditures. The fact that employment status as well as gender affect how individuals respond to fiscal stimulus may have important policy implications.

Andreoni, James. 2008. “Charitable giving.” In The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. 2nd edition. Steven Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Atkison, A.B. 2009. “Giving overseas and public policy.” Journal of Public Economics 93(5-6):647-653.

Remarkable numbers of people give to overseas development charities. The aim of this paper is to consider how such overseas giving is best modelled and the implications for public policy. Widely used theories of charitable giving, based on warm-glow or the provision of public goods, provide insight but are not fully satisfactory as explanations of giving for the specific purpose of development. Instead, an “identification” approach to individual giving is proposed here that combines the results focus of the public goods formulation with the scale of the warm-glow model. The theoretical model is used to examine the implications for public policy, including the extent to which official aid crowds out private giving and how public policy should take account of private willingness to make charitable transfers overseas.

Atkison, Tony, Peter. G. Backus, John Micklewright, Cathy Pharaoh, and Sylke Viola Schnepf. 2008. “Charitable giving for overseas development: U.K. trends over a quarter century.” Discussion Paper No. 7087, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, UK.

Charitable giving for overseas development and emergency relief is important in the UK, being about a quarter of the size of government development aid. There has been a strong growth over time, reflecting the activities of development charities and the public response to a series of humanitarian emergencies. This paper examines how individual overseas giving has changed over the quarter century since 1978, using a newly constructed panel data set on donations to individual UK charities. When did the increase take place? Did the public respond to events such as Live Aid? Or has there been a steady upward trend as our society became more globalised? What form did the increase in giving take? Which charities have grown fastest? Have new charities displaced old? How do changes in giving for overseas compare with changes in giving for other causes such as cancer relief or animal welfare? What, if any, is the relation with Official Development Assistance?

Bag, Parimal Kanti, and Santanu Roy. 2008. “Repeated charitable contributions under incomplete information.” Economic Journal 118:60-91.

Incomplete information about (independent) private valuations of charities by potential donors provides an important strategic rationale for announcement of donations during fundraising drives and explains why donors may add to their initial contributions after learning about contributions made by others. In a two-stage fundraising drive where potential donors may contribute at either or both stages, it is shown that under certain conditions, announcement of contributions generates higher expected total contribution. Contribution announcement plays a similar positive role even when the charity acquires information about donor valuations prior to actual fundraising and can take actions to mitigate incomplete information among donors.

_Bajde, Domen. 2009. “Rethinking the social and cultural dimensions of charitable giving.” Consumption Markets & Culture 12(1):65-84._

Gifts to distant others, such as charitable giving, represent an important segment of contemporary gift-giving that has often been overlooked due to the excessive focus on dyadic giving between intimate individuals. In response, this paper adopts a sociological systemic perspective on gift-giving and focuses on charitable gifts as an emblem of postmodern gift-giving to distant others. Historical evidence and sociological theory on postmodern solidarity are combined to shed light on the fluid duality of contemporary giving and the importance of the imaginary in charitable giving. The outlined socially symbolic dimensions of charitable giving are critically examined in light of postmodern consumer culture and the recent social corporate responsibility trends. By openly engaging the proposed complexities of gift-giving, our vocabulary and understanding of postmodern giving can be revised so as to invite novel routes of investigation.

Basil, Debra Z. 2007. “Charitable donations as a reflection of national values: An exploratory comparison of Canada and the United States.” Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing 18(1):1-19.

This article examines whether differences in national values in Canada and the United States are reflected in charitable donations for those countries. It is proposed that the United States is more individualistic, and Canada is more collectivistic. Education is used as a proxy for individualistic causes, and health care as a proxy for collectivist causes. An examination of secondary data supports the proposed hypotheses. Results suggest that charitable donations reflect national values. Results also support Lipset’s hypothesis that Americans are more individualistic than Canadians. Canadians demonstrate a tendency toward equality of result whereas Americans demonstrate a tendency toward equality of opportunity. As this work is exploratory, avenues for future research are outlined.

Basil, Debra Z.,Nancy M. Ridgway, and Michael D. Basil. 2008. “Guilt and giving: A process model of empathy and efficacy.” Psychology and Marketing 25(1):1-23.

This research develops a model of consumer response to charity appeals. Using the Extended Parallel Process Model from the fear appeal literature as a foundation, the current model proposes that empathy and self-efficacy generate guilt and reduce maladaptive responses, which, in turn, shapes donation intention. The results demonstrate that the impact of empathy on charitable donation intention is fully mediated by guilt and maladaptive responses. The impact of self-efficacy is partially mediated by guilt and maladaptive responses. Therefore, both empathy and self-efficacy determine whether guilt or maladaptive responses result. This model clarifies the process through which guilt appeals operate, by identifying the roles of empathy and self-efficacy.

Benz, Matthias, and Stephan Meier. 2008. “Do people behave in experiments as in the field?—evidence from donations.” Experimental Economics 11(3):268-281.

Laboratory experiments are an important methodology in economics, especially in the field of behavioral economics. However, it is still debated to what extent results from laboratory experiments are informative about behavior in field settings. One highly important question about the external validity of experiments is whether the same individuals act in experiments as they would in the field. This paper presents evidence on how individuals behave in donation experiments and how the same individuals behave in a naturally occurring decision situation on charitable giving. While we find evidence that pro-social behavior is more accentuated in the lab, the data show that pro-social behavior in experiments is correlated with behavior in the field.

Brown, Eleanor, and Rosanna Smart. 2007. “Racial differences in civic participation and charitable giving: The confounding effects of educational attainment and unmeasured ability.” Review of Black Political Economy 34(3-4):259-271.

In this paper we use human capital theory to follow the links from educational attainment to civic engagement, and to other pro-social behaviors such as charitable giving and volunteering, and in so doing we offer a cautionary explanation for observed racial differences in civic participation, giving, and volunteering. Our argument is that when, in a racialized society such as the U.S., the costs and benefits of education differ by race, and when innate ability is an unmeasured source of heterogeneity across individuals, controlling for educational attainment and not for ability will create spurious race effects in empirical studies of behaviors that depend on both education and ability. Because (1) blacks at any level of educational attainment are predicted to be of higher average ability than equally educated whites and (2) higher ability is associated with higher levels of civic participation, a regression of civic participation on educational attainment and race will produce a positive coefficient on the dummy variable that takes on a value of one if the subject is African American. Using data from the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, we find strong support for the interpretation of race effects as spurious artifacts of having included data on educational attainment without measures of innate ability.

Brown, Eleanor, and James M. Ferris. 2007. “Social capital and philanthropy: An analysis of the impact of social capital on individual giving and volunteering.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 36(1):85-99.

This article examines the impact of social capital on philanthropy. Based on extensive information on individuals’ embeddedness in various dimensions of social capital gathered in the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, two measures of social capital are extracted from the data via factor analysis. One relates to individuals’ associational networks; the second relates to their trust in others and in their community. These measures are then incorporated into models of religious giving, secular giving, and volunteering. The estimates confirm the importance of social capital in explaining the generosity of individuals. When social capital is included in giving equations, the direct influences of human capital (education) and religiosity fall, raising the question of whether previous understanding of their importance as determinants of giving and volunteering was overstated or, alternatively, whether the extent to which religion and education foster personal philanthropy by fostering associational networks and norms of trust and cooperation has been under-appreciated.

Brown, Philip H., and Jessica H. Minty. 2008. “Media coverage and charitable giving after the 2004 tsunami.” Southern Economic Journal 75(1):9-25.

Media coverage of humanitarian crises is widely believed to influence charitable giving, yet this assertion has received little empirical scrutiny. Using Internet donations after the 2004 tsunami as a case study, we show that media coverage of disasters has a dramatic impact on donations to relief agencies. An additional minute of nightly news coverage or an additional story in major newspapers raises donations by 17-21%, controlling for the time that has elapsed since the disaster, for tax considerations, and for weekends. Repeating the analysis using instrumental variables to account for simultaneity and omitted variable bias, we find that an additional minute of news coverage raises donations by about 2.5%, an effect that remains both economically and statistically significant. We also find evidence of donor fatigue as well as evidence that tax incentives are effective in increasing charitable donations.

Burnham, Terence C., and Brian Hare. 2007. “Engineering human cooperation: Does involuntary neural activation increase public goods contributions?” Human Nature 18(2):88-108.

In a laboratory experiment, we use a public goods game to examine the hypothesis that human subjects use an involuntary eye-detector mechanism for evaluating the level of privacy. Half of our subjects are “watched” by images of a robot presented on their computer screen. The robot—named Kismet and invented at MIT—is constructed from objects that are obviously not human with the exception of its eyes. In our experiment, Kismet produces a significant difference in behavior that is not consistent with existing economic models of preferences, either self- or other-regarding. Subjects who are “watched” by Kismet contribute 29% more to the public good than do subjects in the same setting without Kismet.

Cappellari, Lorenzo, Paolo Ghinetti, and Gilberto Turati. 2007. “On time and money donations.” Working Paper No. 2140, Center for Economic Studies, Münich, Germany. (

This paper investigates the determinants of time and money gifts. We first develop a behavioural model which accounts for both types of donations, as well as for decisions about domestic and market hours of work. We then investigate the issue empirically, using survey data for Italy. Results suggest that, according to the theoretical predictions, proxies for “warm glow”, reputational concerns and (impure) altruism are important determinants of giving. Moreover, the unobservable determinants driving money and time donations are positively correlated, suggesting a certain degree of complementarity between the two decisions.

Carter, Vernon B., and Jerry Marx. 2007. What motivates African-American charitable giving: Findings from a national sample. Administration in Social Work 31(1):67-85.

Given the growing wealth of minority families in America, including that of African-American families, the potential for charitable donations from these households is much greater. The purpose of this secondary analysis is to examine those variables that may influence African-American charitable giving patterns. This study uses the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data to analyze the effects of multiple factors on the giving habits of African-Americans. Based on this study’s findings, social workers employed as executive directors or fund-raisers in private nonprofit organizations may want to identify and cultivate individual African-American donors directly, instead of relying on United Way and other federated campaigns.

Chandler, Jesse, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen. 2008. “In the ‘I’ of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations.” Judgment and Decision Making 3(5):404-10.

People prefer their own initials to other letters, influencing preferences in many domains. The “name letter effect” (Nuttin, 1987) may not apply to negatively valenced targets if people are motivated to downplay or distance themselves from negative targets associated with the self, as previous research has shown (e.g.,
Finch & Cialdini, 1989). In the current research we examine the relationship between same initial preferences and negatively valenced stimuli. Specifically, we examined donations to disaster relief after seven major hurricanes to test the influence of the name letter effect with negatively valenced targets. Individuals who shared an initial with the hurricane name were overrepresented among hurricane relief donors relative to the baseline distribution of initials in the donor population. This finding suggests that people may seek to ameliorate the negative effects of a disaster when there are shared characteristics between the disaster and the self.

Crampton, William, and Dennis Patten. 2008. “Social responsiveness, profitability and catastrophic events: Evidence on the corporate philanthropic response to 9/11.” Journal of Business Ethics 81(4):863-873.

In this study we seek to determine whether catastrophic events lead to corporate charitable giving unrelated to levels of firm profitability. We examine the issue relative to the corporate philanthropic response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. Based on a sample of 489 Fortune 500 companies, we find that differences in the extent of corporate contributions following 9/11 are positively and significantly associated with differences in firms’ profitability. Further, while the degree of connection to the catastrophic event led to higher levels of giving in comparison to the contributions of less connected firms, differences in the extent of philanthropy are still␣related to short-term profitability for the more connected firms. The study thus provides evidence suggesting that even in the wake of catastrophic events, corporate philanthropic giving is constrained by economic concerns.

Croson, Rachel, and Jen (Yue) Shang. 2008. “The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions.” Experimental Economics 11(3):221-233.

In this paper we study the effect of downward social information in contribution decisions to fund public goods. We describe the results of a field experiment run in conjunction with the fundraising campaigns of a public radio station. Renewing members are presented with social information (information about another donor’s contribution) which is either above or below their previous (last year’s) contribution. We find that respondents change their contribution in the direction of the social information; increasing their contribution when the social information is above their previous contribution, and decreasing their contribution when the social information is below. We hypothesize about the psychological motivations that may cause the results and test these hypotheses by comparing the relative size of the upward and downward shifts. These results improve our understanding of cooperation in public good provision and suggest differential costs and benefits to fundraisers in providing social information.

Dalton, S., H. Madden, K. Chamberlain, S. Carr, A. C. Lyons. 2008. “‘It’s gotten a bit old, charity’: Young adults in New Zealand talk about poverty, charitable giving and aid appeals.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 18(5):492-504.

An extensive body of literature exists on the phenomena of poverty, charitable giving and the effectiveness of aid appeals. To date psychological research has predominantly focused on individualistic models to explain people’s understandings of poverty and their charitable giving practices. Based upon a social constructionist epistemology, this study investigates how understandings of aid appeals, poverty and charitable giving are discursively produced and constructed in relation to one another through an analysis of New Zealand young adults’ talk about these issues. Data were collected from three focus group discussions among pre-existing friendship groups comprising three male and nine female students aged between 18 and 25. A brief video clip of aid appeals was used to stimulate discussion on poverty and charitable giving. Analysis of these discussions revealed three discursive themes relating to the aid appeals: local versus international need, emotional arousal and insufficient information. Drawing upon these themes the participants constructed poverty as relative or extreme, and largely explained by educational deficits. They constructed charitable giving as solicited through aid appeals, as compromised through immunity to such appeals, and as diminished through positionings of self-help and self-responsibility. These discursive constructions were drawn on by participants to legitimate their own non-donor position.

Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. 2008. “Spending money on others promotes happiness.” Science 319(5870):1687-1688.

Although much research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be at least as important as how much money they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. Providing converging evidence for this hypothesis, we found that spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field study of windfall spending). Finally, participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.

Eckel, Catherine C., and Philip J. Grossman. 2008. “Subsidizing charitable contributions: a natural field experiment comparing matching and rebate subsidies.” Experimental Economics 11(3):234-252.

We report the results of a field experiment conducted in conjunction with a mailed fundraising campaign of a nonprofit organization. The experiment is designed to compare the response of donors to subsidies in the form of matching amounts or rebated amounts. Matching subsidies are used by many corporations as an employee benefit; the US federal tax system encourages giving using a rebate subsidy by making donations tax deductible. The design includes a control group and two levels of subsidy of each type. Our main result is that matching subsidies result in larger total donations to charities than rebate subsidies, a result that is qualitatively similar to the lab findings. The estimated price elasticities for the matching subsidy are very similar to (and insignificantly different from) the lab experiments, while rebate subsidies lead to lower contributions in the field than in the lab. Since rebates in the field involve substantial lags and additional complications as compared with the “instant rebates” of the lab, this latter difference is not unexpected. The matching results are an important step in validating lab estimates of responsiveness to subsidies of charitable giving.

Eller, Anja. 2008. “ Is there a link between offline behavior and online donations?” Cyperpsychology and Behavior 11(5):611-613.

Solidarity websites, such as The Hunger Site, where people can donate food at no financial cost and minimal effort, have become immensely popular and effective since 1999. These new forms of philanthropy are characterized by wide participation and direct assistance and feedback. The present longitudinal, quasi-experimental study aimed to examine whether online solidarity can be predicted by offline contact with, attitudes about, and altruistic behavior tendencies towards a population in need, asylum seekers. Fifty-seven university students completed two surveys, separated by 1 year. Prior to T1, only 9% of respondents had visited solidarity websites, while at T2 47% reported clicking. Multiple regression analysis showed that T2 visits to solidarity websites were (negatively) predicted by T1 quantity of contact, and marginally, by T1 general evaluation of asylum seekers. These long-term, offline-to-online effects are intriguing, although there were no effects of offline contact quality and altruistic behavior tendencies. Future research should further investigate the causal direction between offline and online behavior and the factors that might influence the link between offline and online attitudes and behavior.

Fong, Christina M., and Erzo F.P. Luttmer. 2007. “What determines giving to Hurricane Katrina victims: Evidence from a field experiment.” Working Paper No. 13219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, (

We investigate determinants of private and public generosity to Katrina victims using an artifactual field experiment. In this experiment, respondents from the general population first viewed a short audiovisual presentation that manipulated respondents’ perceptions of the income, race, and deservingness of Katrina victims in one of two small cities. Respondents then decided how to split $100 between themselves and a charity helping Katrina victims in this small city. We also collected survey data on subjective support for government spending to help the Katrina victims in the cities. We find, first, that our income manipulation had a significant effect on giving; respondents gave more when they perceived the victims to be poorer. Second, the race and deservingness manipulations had virtually no effect on average giving. Third, the averages mask substantial racial bias among sub-groups of our sample. For instance, whites who identify with their ethnic or racial group strongly biased their giving against blacks while whites who do not identify with their ethnic or racial group biased their giving in favor of blacks. Finally, subjective support for government spending to help Katrina victims was significantly influenced by both our race and deservingness manipulations, but not by the income manipulation. White respondents supported significantly less public spending for black victims and significantly more for victims who were described in more flattering terms, such as being helpful and law-abiding.

Freeman, Dan, Kari Aquino, and Brent McFerran. 2009. “Overcoming beneficiary race as an impediment to charitable donations: Social dominance orientation, the experience of moral elevation, and donation behavior.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 35(1):72-84.

Three studies examined the relationship between social dominance orientation (SDO), the experience of moral elevation, and Whites’ donations to charitable organizations. Study 1 used video clips depicting acts of moral excellence to elicit a state of moral elevation (a distinctive feeling of warmth and expansion, which is accompanied by admiration, affection, and even love for people whose exemplary moral behavior is being observed). Results show that moral elevation increased participants’ willingness to donate to a Black-oriented charity and attenuated the negative effect of the group based dominance (GBD) component of SDO on donation behavior. Studies 2 and 3 replicate and extend these findings by using a written story to elicit a state of moral elevation and examining actual donations to a Black oriented charity. Results show that moral elevation increased donations to the Black-oriented charity and neutralized the negative influence of GBD.

Givel, Reto. 2007. “The button to make poverty history & how to double your donation.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10(4):335-338.

Even if together we could make poverty history, we would not all do our part. The paper presents a device that makes it more likely for everybody to do his part. This is achieved by making everybody’s contribution dependent on the other people’s commitment to contribute given that certain conditions are fulfilled. Furthermore, a device is introduced which, based on the same general idea, doubles everybody’s donation. Finally, possibilities, assumptions and limitations of such devices are addressed.

Graddy, Elizabeth, and Lili Wang. 2008. “Social capital, volunteering, and charitable giving.” Voluntas 19(1):23-42.

This paper explores the impact of social capital—measured by social trust and social networks—on individual charitable giving to religious and secular organizations. Using United States data from the national sample of the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, we find that social trust, bridging social network, and civic engagement increase the amount of giving to both religious and secular causes. In contrast, organizational activism only affects secular giving. Volunteering activity, and human and financial capital indicators positively affect both religious and secular giving. Finally, those who are happy about their lives and those who are religious give more to religious causes, but these factors do not affect secular giving. We find evidence of important differences in the determinants of religious and secular giving, suggesting the need to distinguish these two types of charitable giving in future work.

Halme, Minna, and Juha Laurila. 2009. “Philanthropy, integration, or innovation? Exploring the financial and societal outcomes of different types of corporate responsibility.” Journal of Business Ethics 84(3):325-339.

This article argues that previous research on the outcomes of corporate responsibility should be refined in two ways. First, although there is abundant research that addresses the link between corporate responsibility (CR) and financial performance, hardly any studies scrutinize whether the type of corporate responsibility makes a difference to this link. Second, while the majority of CR research conducted within business studies concentrates on the financial outcomes for the firm, the societal outcomes of CR are left largely unexplored. To tackle these two deficiencies, this article extends the different conceptualizations of corporate responsibility and elaborates both the financial and the societal outcomes of different types of CR.

Handy, Femida, and Eliakim Katz. 2008. “Donating behavior: If time is money, which to give? A preliminary analysis.” Journal of Economic Studies 35(4):323-332.

Purpose—There appears to be a puzzle associated with the observation that individuals both donate and volunteer to charity. If the purpose of a giving individual is to maximize the effect of his/her donation, then he/she should give as effectively as possible. This implies that an individual should donate either time or money but not both. Yet, simultaneous volunteering and donating money is extremely common. Indeed, it may be viewed as the rule rather than the exception. This paper aims to offer a solution to this puzzle.

Design/methodology/approach—This theoretical paper models giving behavior by individuals and takes into account the disutility of volunteer and income related work.

Findings—By modeling the difference between an individual’s volunteer and income-related work, it can be understood why individuals’ giving behavior of donating money and volunteering.

Research limitations/implications—Future research should test these findings empirically.

Originality/value—Theoretical contribution to our understanding of giving behavior as to why individuals donate money and time even if is not economically efficient to do both.

Harbaugh, William T., Ulrich Mayr, and Daniel Burghardt. 2007. “Neural responses to taxation and voluntary giving reveal motives for charitable donations.” Science 316:1622-1625.

Civil societies function because people pay taxes and make charitable contributions to provide public goods. One possible motive for charitable contributions, called “pure altruism,” is satisfied by increases in the public good no matter the source or intent. Another possible motive, “warm glow,” is only fulfilled by an individual’s own voluntary donations. Consistent with pure altruism, we find that even mandatory, tax-like transfers to a charity elicit neural activity in areas linked to reward processing. Moreover, neural responses to the charity’s financial gains predict voluntary giving. However, consistent with warm glow, neural activity further increases when people make transfers voluntarily. Both pure altruism and warm-glow motives appear to determine the hedonic consequences of financial transfers to the public good.

Iredale, Wendy, Mark van Vugt, and Robin Dunbar. 2008. “Showing off in humans: Male generosity as a mating signal.” Evolutionary Psychology 6(3):386-392.

We examined people’s charity contributions while in the presence of an observer of the same sex, opposite sex, or no observer. Inspired by costly signaling theory, we hypothesized that men would be more generous in the presence of a potential mate. Men and women played a number of experimental games in which they could earn money. On completion of these games participants were asked what percentage of their earned money they would be willing to donate to charity. Our results show that men contribute more to charity when observed by a member of the opposite sex than by a member of the same sex or no observer. Conversely, female charity donations did not significantly vary across the three observer conditions. Findings support the notion that men’s generosity might have evolved as a mating signal.

James, Russell N. III and Deanna L. Sharpe. 2007.”The nature and causes of the U-shaped charitable giving profile.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 36:218-238.

The U-shaped income-giving profile, where those in the lower and higher income brackets give higher percentages of their income to charity, has been the subject of much dispute. Examining data from 16,442 households, the authors find clear evidence of a U-shaped relationship. Previous findings contradicting the U-shaped profile are shown to suffer from selection bias that systematically deflates reported lower-income giving levels. Although the U-shaped profile is an appropriate descriptor, it does not reflect typical household behavior. Instead, it is driven almost entirely by the 5% of households that contribute one tenth or more of their after-tax income. Traditionally, the presence of so many highly committed, low-income households has been attributed to religious sect affiliation by the poor. The authors find an additional explanation in that these highly committed, lower-income households are dramatically wealthier than other members of their income classification, in part reflecting the presence of lower-income, higher-asset, retirement-aged households.

Johnson, Paula Doherty. 2007. “Diaspora philanthropy: Influences, initiatives, and issues.” The Philanthropic Initiative, White paper. (

Interest in the flows, practices, and impact of diaspora giving has grown markedly in the past several years. New patterns and accelerated rates of migration, concomitant growth in the flow of remittances, and a search for new sources of support for economic and social development have all fuelled the interest in promoting greater and more effective diaspora philanthropy. This study examines the growing significance and practice of giving from citizens and residents of the United States to their country of origin.

Lee, Yu-Kang, and Chun-Tuan Chang. 2007. “Who gives what to charity? Characteristics affecting donation behavior.” Social Behavior and Personality 35(9):1773-1180.

Giving to charities takes two major forms: time and money. In this study the authors explored whether donors/nondonors can be distinguished using demographic, socioeconomic, and psychographic variables suggested by literature across disciplines. Data were collected through a large-scale telephone survey in Taiwan. The results indicate that determinants affecting volunteering are mostly intrinsic while those for monetary donations are mostly extrinsic. Additionally, educational attainment and income are useful to explain and predict monetary donation amounts. Major differences between our results and previous findings in Western countries are drawn and fund-raising strategies discussed.

Littler, Jo. 2008. “I feel your pain: Cosmopolitan charity and the public fashioning of the celebrity soul.” Social Semiotics 18(2):237-351.

Offering support for global charities has become practically part of the contemporary celebrity job description and a hallmark of the established star. Locating the expansion of this phenomenon within the post-Fordist cultural turn, this paper explores how public displays of support for the afflicted can be a way for celebrities to appear to raise their profile above the zone of the crudely commercial into the sanctified, quasi-religious realm of altruism and charity, whilst revealing or constructing an added dimension of personality: of compassion and caring. The paper suggests that investigating the communicative cultural flows circulating between the celebrity, their impoverished Others and the non-destitute, non-celebrity ordinary subject can tell us something both about how such power relationships are maintained and how the possibilities of change to global injustices are imagined or disavowed. To theorise these interconnections, the paper links together conceptions of the social power of celebrity with debates around cosmopolitanism, work on the mediation of distant suffering and Nietzsche’s conception of the soul.

Liu, Wendy, and Jennifer Aaker. 2008. “The happiness of giving: The time-ask effect.” Journal of Consumer Research 35(3):543-557.

This research examines how a focus on time versus money can lead to two distinct mind-sets that affect consumers’ willingness to donate to charitable causes. The results of three experiments, conducted both in the lab and in the field, reveal that asking individuals to think about “how much time they would like to donate” (vs. “how much money they would like to donate”) to a charity increases the amount that they ultimately donate to the charity. Fueling this effect are differential mindsets activated by time versus money. Implications for the research on time, money, and emotional well-being are discussed.

MacKenzie, R., and J.Collin. 2008. “Philanthropy, politics, and promotion: Philip Morris’ ‘charitable contributions’ in Thailand.” Tobacco Control 17:284-285.

The efforts of members of the tobacco industry to portray themselves as responsible corporations via ostensible commitment to improved labour practices and public philanthropy have attracted growing criticism. This is particularly true of corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes undertaken in emerging nations that are designed to rehabilitate the tobacco industry’s image among public, government and market opinions in North America and western Europe. In the case of Thailand, sponsorship of arts events and community groups has been one avenue of promoting the industry in a regulatory environment that severely curtails promotion and advertising. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Art Award, sponsored by Philip Morris (PM) has provided one such outlet for 10 years. Analysis of PM funding announcements since the end of the ASEAN art programme in Thailand reveals that recent donations to tobacco-related community organisations reinforces the extent to which seemingly generous acts are driven by corporate self-interest rather than social responsibility.

Martin, Richard, and John Randal. 2009. “How Sunday, price, and social norms influence donation behavior.” Journal of Socio-Economics. Article in press.

We describe a natural field experiment investigating donation behaviour. The setting was an art gallery where donations could be deposited into a transparent box in the foyer. Two aspects of the donation environment were manipulated: signs on the donation box and the initial contents of the box. We used three sign treatments: a control with no sign, a sign that thanked donors, and a sign that indicated donations would be matched. We used two initial contents treatments: one with relatively little money ($50) and one with four times as much. The average donation per donor was significantly larger in the $200 treatments but this was offset by a decrease in the propensity to donate. In the matching treatments donations were significantly larger both at the per donor and per visitor level. A control variable turned out to have the largest influence on donation behaviour: the day of the week. The average donation per visitor was 51% higher on Sundays, when compared to every other day of the week.

Marx, Jerry D., and Vernon Brooks Carter. 2008. “Hispanic charitable giving: An opportunity for nonprofit development.” Nonprofit Management & Leadership 19(2):173-187.

In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that Hispanics had become the largest U.S. minority group. Representing 14 percent of the population, more than forty million Hispanics currently live in the United States and are a growing source of charitable giving. This study uses a national probability sample (n = 3,261) to examine variables that may influence Hispanic charitable giving in the United States to private nonprofit organizations. Logistic regression analyses indicated that Hispanics were eight times more likely to donate to human service organizations when using payroll deduction. In addition, Hispanics who were solicited for a donation by telephone were twice as likely to make a donation to educational organizations as Hispanic donors not solicited by phone. Volunteerism was also a predictor of Hispanic charitable giving. U.S. demographic trends and this study’s findings suggest that nonprofit leaders, including those responsible for fundraising in private nonprofit organizations, need to be aware of the opportunities for Hispanic charitable support.

Mayo, John W., and Catherine H. Tinsley. 2008. “Warm glow and charitable giving: Why the wealthy do not give more to charity?” Journal of Economic Psychology 30(3):490-499.

Attempts to understand the economic and psychological motivations for charitable giving date at least back to Adam Smith (1759). In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith attempts to explain why and how an individual or household will feel sympathy for other less well-off individuals or households. At the heart of Smith’s analysis is the general proposition that sympathy (and presumably discernible actions based on that sympathy) is embodied in the ability of an individual to imagine, from his own perspective, the plight of the less well-off household. In this paper we posit a model of charitable giving that is predicated on this basic proposition that we believe lies at the center of explaining the pattern of charitable giving in the United States. In particular, we suggest that understanding the fundamental human and economic drivers of giving requires us to consider the nature and determinants of the “warm glow” a household experiences when making charitable donations to other households. We borrow from cognitive psychologists’ research into how people judge reward distributions and infer causality of such distributions to explain when households are more and less likely to experience this warm glow. Specifically, we explain how biased perceptions of effort and luck, as the causes of reward distributions, will systematically reduce warm glow of high-income households, which may help explain the essentially flat relationship between income and percentage donations to charity.

Mayr, Ulrich, William T. Harbaugh, and Dharol Tankersley. 2008. “Neuroeconomics of charitable giving and philanthropy.” Pp 303-320 in Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain, edited by Paul W. Glimcher, Colin F. Camerer, Russell Alan Poldrack and Ernst Fehr. New York: Elsevier Academic Press.

Meer, Jonathan, and Harvey Rosen. 2008. “The ABCs of charitable solicitation.” Working Paper No. 1057, Center for Economic Policy Studies, Princeton, NJ. (

The “iron law of fundraising” says that people do not donate to a charity unless they are asked. We test the iron law using observational data on alumni giving at an anonymous research university, which we refer to as Anon U. At Anon U, volunteers use lists provided by the Development Office to telephone classmates and solicit them for donations. The names on these lists are always in alphabetical order. The volunteers who do the soliciting often run out of time before they reach the end of their lists, and conditional on reaching the end of their lists, the solicitations are likely to be done with less energy and enthusiasm. These observations suggest a simple strategy for testing whether solicitation matters, viz., examine whether alumni with names toward the end of the alphabet are less likely to give than alumni with names toward the beginning, ceteris paribus. If so, then solicitation matters. Our main finding is that location in the alphabet—and hence, solicitation—has a strong effect on probability of making a gift, but not on the amount given, conditional on donating. This result is consistent with a theoretical model of charitable behavior developed by Andreoni and Payne 2003, in which solicitation reduces the transaction cost of making a gift. Our finding is also in line with a model in which individuals donate to charities in order to avoid the solicitor’s disapproval. In this case, the donation per se is perceived as eliminating the stigma; the amount given, conditional on giving, has no additional impact. We also find that women respond more strongly to solicitation than men. This is consistent with a robust result in the psychology literature, that women find it more difficult than men to refuse requests that they perceive as being legitimate.

Micklewright, John, and Sylke V. Schnepf. 2009. “Who gives for overseas development?” Journal of Social Policy 38(2): 317-341.

Individuals’ donations to overseas charities are an important source of funding for development assistance from rich industrialised countries. But little is known about the nature of these charitable donations. The literature on giving focuses on total donations to all causes and does not identify separately the pattern or the determinants of giving to any particular cause. We investigate giving to overseas causes using UK survey microdata that record individuals’ donations to different types of charity. We establish a picture of overseas giving, comparing this with giving to other causes. Socio-economic correlates of both types of giving are analysed, including gender, marital status, occupation, education and, especially, income. We also investigate the relationship between individuals’ overseas giving and their attitudes towards poverty in developing countries.

Mohlin, Erik, and Magnus Johannesson. 2008. “Communication: Content or relationship?” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 65(3-4):409-419.

We investigate the effect of anonymous communication on generosity in a dictator game. One-way written communication from the recipient is compared with no communication. Communication increases donations by more than 70 percent (p < 0.05). To separate the effect of the content of the communication from the “relationship effect” of communication, a third treatment is carried out with one-way communication from third-parties (as messages from the recipients in the second treatment). In this third treatment, the donations are about 40 percent higher than in the treatment with no communication (p < 0.10), suggesting that the impersonal content of the communication affects donations.

Muller, Alan, and Gail Whiteman. 2009. “Exploring the geography of corporate philanthropic disaster response: A study of Fortune Global 500 firms.” Journal of Business Ethics 84(4):589-603.

In recent years, major disasters have figured prominently in the media. While corporate response to disasters may have raised corporate philanthropy to a new level, it remains an understudied phenomenon. This article draws on comparative research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy to explore the geography of corporate philanthropic disaster response. The study analyzes donation announcements made by Fortune Global 500 firms from North America, Europe and Asia to look for regional patterns across three recent disasters: the South Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Kashmiri earthquake. The results reveal inter-regional differences in the overall likelihood of donations and in their cash value, in addition to the identification of home-region- and local presence effects. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Nickel, Patricia Mooney, and Angela M. Eikenberry. 2009. “A critique of the discourse of marketized philanthropy.” American Behavioral Scientist 52(7):974-989.

Philanthropy has received increased attention in recent years and is an important focus for social theorists concerned with discourse. The authors argue that the transformative potential of philanthropy its potential to represent the need for and bring about social change is increasingly lost in the current market-based discourse of philanthropy that includes consumption of products (i.e., cause-related marketing) and consumption of media and celebrities (i.e., charitainment) as the basis for benevolent human relations. This marketization of philanthropy depoliticizes the relationship between the market and the negative impacts it has on human well-being, thereby making philanthropy less likely to catalyze substantive social change. In this article, the authors argue that in fast capitalism philanthropy must be distinguished from the market, narrate on behalf of the marginalized, and be rewritten independent of the necessity of the market and marginality.

Oosterhof, Liesbeth, Ard Heuvelman, and Oscar Peters. 2009. “Donation to disaster relief campaigns: Underlying social cognitive factors exposed.” Evaluation and Program Planning 32(2):148-157.

A number of very serious natural disasters have put an enormous pressure on relief organizations in the last few years. The present study exposes underlying social cognitive factors for donation to relief campaigns. A causal model was constructed, based on social cognitive theory, research on attitudes, and the impact of media exposure. The aim was to expand and improve an already existing model by Cheung and Chan (2000). The expanded model showed a better fit. Furthermore, the expanded model explained two-thirds of the variance of the intention to donate to a disaster relief campaign. The greatest predictor of the intention to donate proved to be past donation to disaster relief campaigns. The factor News exposure was indicated to be a valuable additional factor, as it had a significant direct effect on Awareness of a disaster relief campaign and was the only factor that had a total effect on all other factors, including Intention to donate to a disaster relief campaign.

Payton, Robert L., and Michael P. Moody. 2008. Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Philanthropy has existed in various forms in all cultures and civilizations throughout history, yet most people know little about it and its distinctive place in our lives. Why does philanthropy exist? Why do people so often turn to philanthropy when we want to make the world a better place? In essence, what is philanthropy? These fundamental questions are tackled in this engaging and original book. Written by one of the founding figures in the field of philanthropic studies, Robert L. Payton, and his former student, sociologist Michael P. Moody,Understanding Philanthropypresents a new way of thinking about the meaning and mission of philanthropy. Weaving together accessible theoretical explanations with fascinating examples of philanthropic action, this book advances key scholarly debates about philanthropy and offers practitioners a way of explaining the rationale for their nonprofit efforts.

Peloza, John, and Katherine N. Hassay. 2007. “A typology of charitable support behaviors: Toward a holistic view of helping.” Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing 17(1-2):135-151.

Charities and researchers have begun to adopt a much broader view of support; one that transcends traditional forms of consumer charitable support behavior (CSB) such as donations and volunteerism to include cause-related marketing (CRM), charity events and charity gaming. The current article builds upon this expanding view of charity support by introducing a typology of CSB that encompasses the breadth of consumer CSB. In doing so, the article provides direction for charities seeking to garner additional support from current supporters, as well as a means of attracting new supporters by using non-traditional forms of charitable support.

Piper, Greg, and Sylke V. Schnepf. 2008. “Gender differences in charitable giving in Great Britain.” Voluntas 19(2):103-124.

The predominant part of the literature states that women are more likely to donate to charitable causes but men are more generous in terms of the amount given. The last result generally derives from the focus on mean amount given. This article examines gender differences in giving focusing on the distribution of amounts donated and the probability of giving using micro-data on individual giving to charitable causes for Great Britain. Results indicate that women are generally more generous than men also in terms of the amounts donated. Quantile regression analysis shows that this pattern is robust if we take into account gender differences in individual characteristics such as household structure, education, and income. The article also investigates differences in gender preferences for varying charitable causes. Results are presented separately for single and married people, highlighting the very different gender patterns of giving behaviour found in the two groups.

Rice, James G. 2007. “Icelandic charity donations: Reciprocity reconsidered.” Ethnology 46(1):1-20.

This article considers the analytical treatment of charitable donations within the anthropological exchange spectrum. The paper draws upon a multi-year ethnographic research project on the work of material aid charities in Reykjavik, Iceland. It explores the giving, receiving, and redistributing of material goods at one particular agency and argues that the donations are not always gifts, or “free gifts,” despite the act of giving to charities being framed in the language of gifting. Such donations defy analytical generalization within this complex flow of goods. A close consideration of charitable giving can contribute to understanding how structural inequalities are produced and reproduced within wealthy societies, particularly in terms of how these often magnanimous acts can contribute to the disempowerment and marginalization of those who depend upon such forms of assistance. (Charity giving, exchange, inequality, Reykjavik, Iceland). Adapted from the source document.

Rondeau, Daniel, and John A. List. 2008. “Matching and challenge gifts to charity: evidence from laboratory and natural field experiments.” Experimental Economics 11(3):253-267.

This study designs a natural field experiment linked to a controlled laboratory experiment to examine the effectiveness of matching gifts and challenge gifts, two popular strategies used to secure a portion of the $200 billion annually given to charities. We find evidence that challenge gifts positively influence contributions in the field, but matching gifts do not. Methodologically, we find important similarities and dissimilarities between behavior in the lab and the field. Overall, our results have clear implications for fundraisers and provide avenues for future empirical and theoretical work on charitable giving.

Sargeant, Adrian, John B. Ford, and Jane Hudson. 2008. “Charity brand personality: The relationship with giving behavior.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 37(3):468-491.

Charity brands have been found to assist income generation by enhancing donor understanding of an organization and what it stands for. Despite an increasing interest in this topic, few studies have addressed the dimensions of such brands and sought to explore the link (if any) with donor behavior. The authors report the results of a large-scale postal survey of donors to nine national nonprofits and conclude that traits associated with benevolence, progression, and conservatism are incapable of distinguishing between the study’s participating brands. Traits associated with emotional engagement, service, voice, and tradition are capable of serving as the basis for differentiation and are also linked to facets of individual giving behavior.

Shang, Jen; Americus Reed, II; and Rachel Croson. 2008. “Identity congruency effects on donations.” Journal of Marketing Research 45:351-361.

This article describes several field and laboratory experiments that investigate an identity congruency effect on donations. Experiment 1 is a field experiment showing that consumers give more money to a public radio station if they are told that a previous donor who shares their identity also made a large contribution. This effect is more likely to occur when consumers have high collective-identity esteem (measured in Experiment 2a) and when attention is focused on others (manipulated in Experiment 2b). The authors measure these two moderators simultaneously and observe and replicate a three-way interaction. Again, the identity congruency effect is the strongest when consumers have high collective-identity esteem and when attention is focused on others (Experiment 3a and Experiment 3b). These results provide a novel understanding of the causes of the identity congruency effect on donations. The authors conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and substantive implications of these findings.

Silver, Ira. 2007. “Disentangling class from philanthropy: The double-edged sword of alternative giving.” Critical Sociology 33(3):537-549.

A recurring theme echoed by critics of United States philanthropy is that foundations are instrumental in reproducing the class privilege of elites. Since the early 1970s, a cluster of ‘alternative’ foundations has responded to this critique in two ways: 1) By distributing grants to recipients largely overlooked by mainstream philanthropy: marginalized groups organizing for progressive social change, and 2) By making grant decisions in ways that explicitly aim to challenge the class power foundations traditionally exercise. Regarding the latter, these alternative foundations either segregate donors from the process of deciding where their money goes and give this power instead to community activists, or they integrate donors with community activists to make grant decisions collaboratively. My analysis illustrates how both of these grant-making models reinforce class distinctions, despite their intention of doing otherwise. Indeed, looking at alternative foundations in comparison to their more traditional counterparts reveals just how deeply class lies at the very core of philanthropy. Adapted from the source document.

Simmons, Walter O., and Rosemarie Emanuele. 2007. “Male-female giving differentials: are women more altruistic?” Journal of Economic Studies 34(6):534-550.

Purpose—The purpose of this paper is to offer two empirical analyses of differences in the donations of money and time between males and females based on the impact of identical variables on the donation of money and time. Analysis was made of not only how a person’s giving patterns are determined for both sexes, but also what portion of differences in giving patterns can be explained by observable and unobservable characteristics between men and women.

Design/methodology/approach—The US dataset Giving and Volunteering 1999 was used in the study.

Findings—It was found that, on average, women are predicted to donate more of both money and time. Variables affecting money donations are significant and robust for both males and females, whereas the variation in time donation is poorly explained by the same variables. A substantial portion of the money and time donation differential gap (over 85 percent in time donation) is unexplained by mean levels of characteristics such as, wage, age and experience.

Practical implications—While the issue of whether altruism is innate or the product of socialization is not addressed, these results imply that women bring an extra willingness to give and to volunteer than do men. As women gain economic power in the marketplace, this may result in even more giving and volunteering, creating a windfall to organizations that rely on such donations.

Originality/value—Organizations that rely on women for donations of time and money may find these results interesting. They imply that women are motivated by forces not easily captured by a traditional wage equation, especially when looking at donations of time.

Small, Deborah A., George Loewenstein, and Paul Slovic. 2007. “Sympathy and callousness: The impact of deliberative though on donations to identifiable and statistical victims.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 102(2):143-153.

The issue of why individuals choose to support charity has been the focus of considerable research in the disciplines of economics, psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology and more recently, management and marketing. This paper draws together extant work, developing a content model of giving behavior that fundraisers may use to inform their professional practice. A number of specific propositions are developed from the literature to assist in this goal. The paper provides summary tables of existing empirical studies categorized by the dimensions of the model, explores ambiguity in research findings, and concludes by highlighting opportunities for further research.

Smith, Joanne R., and Andreè McSweeney. 2007. “Charitable giving: The effectiveness of a revised theory of planned behaviour model in predicting donating intentions and behavior.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 17(5):363-386.

A revised theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model was used to determine the influence of attitudes, norms (injunctive, descriptive and moral norms), perceived behavioural control, and past behaviour on intentions to donate money to charitable organisations. Respondents (N = 227) completed a questionnaire assessing the constructs of the revised TPB model. Four weeks later, a subsample of respondents (N = 67) reported their donating behaviour. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed support for the revised TPB model. Attitudes, perceived behavioural control, injunctive norms, moral norms and past behaviour all predicted charitable giving intentions; however, descriptive norms did not predict donating intentions. Donating intentions were the only significant predictor of donating behaviour at Time 2. In addition, a number of beliefs differentiated between those who did and did not intend to donate to charity. Theoretical and applied implications of the results are discussed.

Smith,Raymond D. 2008. “The value of charity in a world of profit maximization.” Journal of Human Values 14(1):49-61.

This article addresses the issue of whether the traditional values of charity and philanthropy are ethically recommended, and how they may be reconciled with the sometimes contradictory profit maximization value of the capitalist ‘free market’.1 That is, what place does charity have in the context of the free market where profit maximization is the ruling value?
_In answering this question, the article contrasts the effects of ‘no mercy’ with that of ‘mercy’ behaviour on overall utility maximiz