Social participation and charitable giving: A multivariate analysis

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Despite an abundance of survey data on charitable giving, researchers have not analysed these data asking the kinds of theoretical questions and employing the kinds of multivariate statistical techniques that would advance our understanding of the social processes leading to charitable behaviour. This article reports the authors' first findings from their continuing efforts to develop and test such a multivariate causal model of the social, demographic, economic and motivational determinants of individual charitable giving. The first section outlines ouridentification theory of charitable giving. In the second section we discuss the data and how we operationalise our variables. The third section examines whether there is broad quantitative support for major tenets of the model developed if applied at the household level. In the fourth section we enquire about which factors are most strongly related to giving behaviour. We conclude with a discussion about the centrality of communities of participation for inducing charitable giving and about the practical implications for fundraising.

An earlier version of this article was prepared for presentation at the annual conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Berkeley, October 1994. The authors are grateful to the T. B. Murphy Charitable Trust, the Lilly Endowment and the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy for their support of this research. We are also grateful to Virginia A. Hodgkinson and Stephen M. Noga for providing data from theSurvey of Giving and Volunteering and for sharing their expertise. Finally, we wish to thank the Editor ofVoluntas and three anonymous reviewers for their careful and constructive suggestions.