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Measuring Charitable Giving

center on wealth and philanthropy

"Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Giving Model: Forecast for 2009"

by John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish. In Advancing Philanthropy Magazine. January/February 2010.

For the large diverse populations, such as that of the United States, household charitable giving is most strongly and consistently related to household income and wealth. Most national and state estimates of future charitable giving are based in large part on macro or micro values of income and wealth. Researchers can measure how changes in income and wealth, for example during the 2008-2009 recession, affect changes in charitable giving only when date on financial resources and their valuation become available. Fortunately, some of this financial information becomes available on a preliminary basis each quarter. However, there are no quarterly data on charitable giving. To date, researchers have been unable to generate estimates of household charitable giving (and their relationship to income and wealth) in as timely a way as may be useful for charities. Charities naturally would like to know estimates of charitable giving, for example, for the most recent quarter and to receive projections for the near future.

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Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Individual Giving Model  by John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish in Advancing Philanthropy Magazine, July/August 2010.

The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College estimates that individual charitable giving in 2009 amounted to $217.3 billion, a decline of $11.2 billion (4.90 percent) from our estimate of $228.5 billion in 2008. Adjusting for inflation in 2009, our estimate of $228.5 billion in 2008 dollars amounts to $227.9 billion in 2009 dollars and results in a decline of $10.6 billion or 4.65 percent.  This is in addition to the center's calculation of inflation-adjusted decline from 2007 to 2008 of 6.1 percent.  This represents a total decline in inflation adjusted dollars of $25.3 billion from 2007 to 2009.

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"Charitable Giving: How Much, By Whom, To What, and Why."
Paul G. Schervish, John J. Havens and Mary A. O'Herlihy. The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, Second Edition. Walter W. Powell and Richard Steinberg (eds.) Yale University Press. 2006. Four aspects of charitable giving are discussed in this chapter: how much is given in total; the patterns of giving broken down by demographic and behavioral characteristics; how much is given to various areas of need; and how donors are giving, that is, through outright cash gifts, or through more formal and strategic methods.

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"Comparisons Between Gallup / IS and Boston Area Diary Study Data: Report of Findings."
John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish. Social Welfare Research Institute, Boston College, Mar. 31, 1997. This report documents the results of comparisons between data on giving, volunteering, and income collected by the Gallup Organization for the Independent Sector and corresponding data for the same respondents collected by the Boston Area Diary Study (BADS). In general we find that there are major differences between amounts of time volunteered, money and goods contributed, and family income reported to Gallup as compared with the same information reported to BADS by the same respondents.
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"Do the Poor Pay More: Is the U-shaped Curve Correct?"
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 24, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 79-90. This paper reports selected findings from a larger research project involving the quantitative investigation of societal, familial, and individual characteristics that induce philanthropic behavior. The findings focus on the fundamental question: "Do the poor (represented by lower income households) pay more than the wealthy (represented by higher income households)?
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"Embarking on a Republic of Benevolence: New Survey Finding on Charitable Giving."
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 27, no. 2 (June 1998): 237-242. In this article, the authors provide a tentative answer to a vexing statistical question about the level of charitable giving in the United States: Why does the Independent Sector's (IS) Survey of Giving and Volunteering consistently estimate personal contributions to nonprofit organizations to be 65% to 75% lower than corresponding estimates reported by the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (AAFRC)?
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"Explaining the U in the U-Shaped Curve."
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 6, no. 2, (Aug. 1995): 202-225. In this paper we inquire about the relative generosity of that sub-population of households that donate to charitable causes. We base our analysis on data collected in the 1990 national survey of Giving and Volunteering in the United States conducted by the Gallup Organization for the Independent Sector.
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"Geography and Giving: The Culture of Philanthropy in New England and the Nation"

John J. Havens and Paul G. Shervish. The Boston Foundation. Published June 2007. The wealthiest Massachusetts residents give much more of their income to charities than wealthy people in the rest of the country, according to a new report on charitable giving by Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. 
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"A Methodological Test of Giving: Using Indiana as a Test Case."
Patrick Rooney, Kathryn Steinberg and Paul G. Schervish. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 30, no. 3, Sept. 2001, pp.551-568. In the most recent phase of the telephone survey of giving and volunteering conducted every 4 years, Indiana Gives, eight groups of approximately 100 randomly selected Indiana residents were asked to complete one of eight surveys related to giving and volunteering. It was found that the longer the module and the more detailed its prompts, the more likely a household was to recall making any charitable contribution and the higher the average level of its giving.
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"The Methods and Metrics of the Boston Area Diary Study."
John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 30, no.3, Sept. 2001, pp. 527-550. In this paper we discuss the conceptual framework, methods, and findings of BADS in order to provide insights into the problems and prospects of survey research on philanthropy. We hope that the lessons we have learned may both provide knowledge on the fabric of care in our society, as well as suggest theoretical and practical implications for others conducting survey research in this field.
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"Money and Magnanimity: New Findings on the Distribution of Income, Wealth, and Philanthropy."
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Nonprofit Management & Leadership 8, no. 4 (Summer 1998): 421-434. In this paper we address several additional empirical questions about variation in the level of charitable giving across and within categories of income. We interpret the findings to mean that the roots of generosity reside in an array of social-psychological factors that are more profound than the fact that people are rich or poor.
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"Our Daily Bread: Findings from the First Diary Study on Giving and Receiving Care."
John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish. Research report on the findings from interviews three to four times a month for a year with Boston area residents concerning their patterns of giving and receiving financial and in-kind assistance, volunteer time, and emotional support. July 1997.
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"By Their Fruits, Shall We Know Them?: Comparing Philosophy of Giving to Actual Behavior."
Laura M. Leming and John J. Havens. Presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Seattle, Nov. 5-7, 1998. This paper is an extension of the analysis of Boston College Social Welfare Research Institute Boston Area Diary Study (BADS) wherein participants were interviewed weekly for a year about their charitable giving and volunteering. The BADS study provides a unique opportunity to compare respondents' answers to four open-ended questions about their philosophy of giving with their actual contributions of time and money. This paper reports the qualitative analysis of this comparison.
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"Wealth and the Commonwealth: New Findings on the Trends in Wealth and Philanthropy."
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 30,no. 1, March 2001, pp. 5-25. Drawing in large part on the1995 Survey of Consumer Finances, we describe the pattern of charitable giving by families at the upper reaches of income and wealth, as well as across the income spectrum. The overriding empirical motif is that the distribution of charitable giving is more highly skewed toward the upper end of the financial spectrum than previously documented, and that there appears to be a trend toward its becoming even more so.
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