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Motivations for Charitable Giving

center on wealth and philanthropy

"Adoption and Altruism: Those With Whom I Want to Share a Dream."
Paul G. Schervish. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 21, no. 4 (Winter 1992): 327-350. In this paper I propose a non-reductionist notion of altruism by reviewing various findings from my study on philanthropy among the wealthy, with a special emphasis on what I call adoption philanthropy. I argue that, for the most part, attempts to define altruism from deductive philosophical or theoretical reasoning are destined to disappoint, and that what positive understanding of altruism does remain must be gleaned from an inductive examination of adoption philanthropy.
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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 Presss. 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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"Financial and Psychological Determinants of Donor’s Capacity to Give."
Thomas B. Murphy, The T. B. Murphy Foundation Charitable Trust. In New Directions in Philanthropic Fundraising. Understanding the Needs of Donors: The Supply-Side of Charitable Giving. Edited by Eugene R. Tempel and Dwight F. Burlingame. Number 28, fall 2001, pp.33-49. The basic tenet of this paper is that "the primary financial decision-making criterion for determining one’s capacity to engage in philanthropic activities is neither wealth nor income but the expected present and future relationship between income and expense." Given the generally accepted assumption that one provides first for oneself and one’s family and does so at some level of lifestyle, philanthropy enters into the decision-making process when the difference between the expected level of income, present and future, and expected level of expense, present and future, to maintain and enhance one’s standard of living is substantial and relatively permanent as measured by the subjectively determined criteria of the decision maker. It is from this difference that the financial wherewithal for financial activities emerges.

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"How do People Leave Bequests: Family or Philanthropic Organizations?."Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. In Alicia Munnell and Annika Sunden, (eds.), Death and Dollars, forthcoming Brookings Press. This paper presents an alternative paradigm to economic models of transfers, one which we have developed from our extensive ethnographic and survey research on charitable giving and which we call the identification theory. The identification theory suggests that it is self-identification with others and with the needs of others, (rather than selflessness) that motivates transfers to individuals and to philanthropic organizations and that leads givers to derive satisfaction from fulfilling those needs. The allocation of transfers to family and philanthropy, we have found, is not so much a division between individuals and philanthropic organizations, as it is an allocation of transfers across an array of perceived needs, which combines both the needs of individuals, including family and friends, and needs served by philanthropic organizations. Moreover, the allocation is less a single conscious decision than a process imbedded in daily life experiences.
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"Inclination, Obligation, and Association: What We Know and What We Need to Learn about Donor Motivation."
Paul G. Schervish. In Critical Issues in Fund Raising, edited by Dwight F. Burlingame. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997. 110-138. This paper reviews the status of questions surrounding the issue of motivation for charitable gifts of money and assets--what I will call financial philanthropy. In exploring the mobilizing factors that induce financial philanthropy, it is important to distinguish between those influences that lead people to become givers in the first place and those that lead some donors to make larger than average gifts or to increase their giving. The guiding principle of my approach to charitable giving is represented by what I call an identification model rather than an altruism model of motivation.
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"Major Donors, Major Motives: The People and Purposes Behind Major Gifts."
Paul G. Schervish. In New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising: Developing Major Gifts, edited by Dwight F. Burlingame and James M. Hodge. 16 (Summer 1997): 85-112. In this paper I attempt to explain what motivates the charitable giving of the wealthy, or more succinctly, the major motives of major donors. My research over the past twelve years has enabled me to distill an answer that is both simple and complex. The simple part is that what motivates the wealthy is very much what motivates someone at any point along the economic spectrum. The complex part about the charitable motivation of the wealthy is that those who hold great wealth and consciously direct it to social purposes invariably want to shape rather than merely support a charitable cause.
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"The Modern Medici: Patterns, Motivations, and Giving Strategies of the Wealthy."
Paul G. Schervish. Paper presented on the panel, "The New Philanthropists," at the inaugural forum, "What is 'New' About New Philanthropy," of the University of Southern California Nonprofit Studies Center. Los Angeles, January 20, 2000. This paper addresses three aspects of the relationship between wealth and philanthropy that can serve as foundations for understanding and influencing what I consider to be a forthcoming golden age of philanthropy: the large and exponential growth in wealth, the motivational array that inclines wealth holders to contribute to charity, and the array of strategies they use in carrying out their philanthropy.
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"Social Participation and Charitable Giving: A Multivariate Analysis."
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 8, no. 3 (1997): 235-260. (Republished here by kind permission of Voluntas.) This paper develops and empirically tests a causal model of the determinants of individual charitable giving. Although our analysis is in reference to charitable giving, the model also appears directly applicable, at least as a starting point, for research on volunteering. This paper reports on the researchers' continuing efforts to develop and test a multivariate causal model of the social, demographic, economic, and motivational determinants of individual charitable giving.

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"Social Participation and Charitable Giving Revisited: Replication of a Multivariate Analysis."
Paul G. Schervish, Platon E. Coutsoukis, and John J. Havens. October 20, 1998.
Two years ago, we empirically examined empirically a multiple-cluster, multivariate theory of philanthropy developed by the first author (Schervish and Havens, 1996). We based this analysis on the 1992 national Survey of Giving and Volunteering (SGV) conducted by the Gallup Organization for the Independent Sector. In the present paper, we replicate our empirical analysis using two newer data sets: the 1996 national General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the National Opinion Research Center and the 1994-95 national Harvard Survey of Health and Life Quality (HSHLQ) conducted by DataStat for the MacArthur Foundation. These additional surveys allow us to investigate whether we can obtain broad support for our initial findings, despite the differences in focus and the specific questions asked, among all the surveys.

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"Wealth and Giving By The Numbers." Paul Schervish and Andras Szanto. Reflections: Excepts from Wealth & Giving Forum Gatherings, Issue 2. Published Fall 2006. This article excerpts findings presented in a more compreshensive report by Paul G. Schervish, titled "Aspirations and Apprehensions: Commentary on the Wealth & Giving Forum Survey."
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"Why Do People Give?"
Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. The Not-For-Profit CEO Monthly Newsletter 5, no. 7 (May 1998): 1-3. [Based on "Social Participation and Charitable Giving: A Multivariate Analysis." Paul G. Schervish and John. J. Havens. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 8, no. 3 (1997): 235-260.] When we review our findings from a broad theoretical standpoint, it appears that for the population as a whole, participation, especially participation that already embodies a commitment to philanthropy, or to a philanthropic organization, is directly related to charitable giving. Moreover, within community of participation, participation in religious organizations is especially important. The major implication of the research is that the level of charitable giving, and perhaps of volunteering, depends less than previously thought on the differences in people's personal generosity.
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"Why The Wealthy Give: Factors Which Mobilize Philanthropy Among High Net-Worth Individuals."Paul G. Schervish. The Routledge Companion to Nonprofit Marketing. Published Winter 2008.
This article outlines the motivations of high net-worth individuals for philanthropy.
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