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"Better Than Gold: The Moral Biography of Charitable Giving." 

Paul G. Schervish. ALDE Conference Presentation. Delivered as a keynote presentation at the 2003 California Dreamin' Conference in Irvine, California. 


This presentation focuses on the addition of a third key component for fundraising in congregations in addition to the traditional mission-based and spirituality-based approaches. The mission-based model of stewardship identifies congregational needs and invites the congregation to contribute to meet those needs. The spirituality-based model asks individuals to reflect upon their relationship to God and to develop their inclination to become sacrificial givers to serve God's needs rather than only meeting particular needs in the church. Although each of these models serve their own vital role, a third model that considers the needs of the donating member is of equal importance. I suggest the voluntary contribution of financial gifts will be most highly motivated and productive where we find the confluence of meeting the needs of the congregation, God, and the donor - what Thomas Aquinas describes as the unity of love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. I discuss three important aspects of the needs of donors that should be taken into account in stewardship efforts. The first aspect is the notion that charitable giving is a practice that helps constitute an individual's life as a moral biography. The second aspect is the increasing material capacity that is increasingly forming the basis for growth in charitable giving. And finally, the third aspect is the notion that working with the inclinations of donors through a self-reflective process of discernment will make charitable giving more meaningful and more abundant.

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"Beyond Altruism: Philanthropy as Moral Biography and Moral Citizenship of Care.”

Paul G. Schervish. In The Palgrave Handbook of Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity: Formulating a Field Study, edited by Vincent Jeffries. 389-405. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Addressed in this paper are four aspects of the practice of philanthropy in biography and society. Philanthropy is a more profound array of biographical and societal relationships than its conventional understanding as an activity that flows in, to, or through organizations formally defined in the legal code as nonprofit charitable organizations.  

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"Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism: Care as Mutual Nourishment"

Steven Grosby correctly locates the elements of human preferences that most strain the theory of rational choice. He endeavors to incorporate those apparent aspects of altruism into rational choice theory in order to rescue it. The problem is that his syntheses are not as robust in capturing the reality of human experience as identification theory is. If one’s preference is rational choice theory, there is nothing that cannot be explained as self-interest—even altruism and disinterestedness. I believe that we need a different starting point, one that is also empirically founded and philosophically coherent. Identification theory is in my view a better account than rational choice theory for two reasons: it can explain what rational choice theory tries to explain, and it can explain additional factors that rational choice theory cannot explain. This paper is a response to Grosby's original article. Download original Grosby article.

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"The Boston Area Diary Study and the Moral Citizenship of Care."

Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens. Voluntas: International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations. Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 47-71. March 2002.

This paper describes the theoretical foundations, empirical findings, and practical implications of what we call the moral citizenship or moral economy of care. In particular, we present an identification model of care; discuss how it shaped the way we conceptualized, collected, and analyzed the data in our year-long diary study of daily voluntary assistance; and suggest that when civic engagement is properly defined and measured there may in fact be no deterioration in the physical or moral density of associational life as is suggested by many contemporary commentators.

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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 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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