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Perspectives

Publication Date

5-1-2010

Abstract

Why do people donate money? The phenomenon of donation is rarely questioned, and yet remains an integral part of society. Studying philanthropy, described as “private action for the public good” by Brown and Ferris (2007:85), is informative because it shows how well individuals can identify and fight social problems. With 1 million charities in the United States in 2008, the nonprofit sector employing 7 percent of the workforce, and donations making up 2.2 percent of the GDP, philanthropy is a visible presence in US society (NPT 2008). Because of this, it is important to call into investigation the elements that influence financial donations, such as social, human and financial capital, as well as perceptions of donation behavior demographics. The concept of social capital, defined by Dillon (2010) as “individuals’ ties or connections to others” (255), is essential to understanding how donation occurs (Brown and Ferris 2007). Additionally, perceptions of others donation behaviors are also important in influencing an individual’s participation in donation as well as how much they donate. Human and financial capital are associated with ability to donate. Demographics like education and gender have also been shown to be strongly associated with philanthropic behavior (Andreoni Brown and Rischall 2003; Lee and Chang 2007). I hypothesize that in order for donation to occur, a person needs both inclination and capacity to give, inclination to give being formed by social capital and perceptions of other’s donation behaviors, and capacity to give coming from human and social capital. I also believe that social capital will have the strongest influence on donation behavior. Finally, I hypothesize that certain demographics will have higher associations with donation behavior than others.

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