Donor Motivations for Giving Vary With Income and Education
INDIANAPOLIS, October 20, 2009 — Despite some longstanding perceptions that people in different regions of the United States are more or less motivated to give to charity based on differing underlying values that might be specific to a region, a new analysis by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has revealed that regional trends and values have less of an impact on donor motivation than income and education do.
Nearly one in five donors says that the most important reason to give to charity is to help meet people’s basic needs. However, a key finding of the research is that, while there are differences in the percentage of people who select different motivations within each region of the country, those variations can be explained by regional differences in income and education, not underlying values specific to the region.
Understanding Donor Motivations was funded by CCS, a national fundraising, consulting and management firm. The report draws on data from more than 10,000 households to examine charitable giving and donor motivation for giving.
The study finds that 18 percent of donors said that the single most important reason for giving to charity is to help meet people’s basic needs, such as for food, shelter, clothing, and heat. That motivation was followed by “making the world a better place,” which was identified by 17 percent of donors as their most important reason for giving.
“Research repeatedly shows that higher income and higher education levels are associated with a greater likelihood of giving to charity and with higher average gift amounts,” said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. “With this study, we find that the ways donors describe their giving motivations also vary with income and education. This has implications for fundraising messages in all their forms.”
One of the most significant findings is that donors in different income groups identified different motivations for their giving: