Why Do We Give To Charity?

Many would say that they give to charity simply because it “feels good” to help those less fortunate, which may be true at times. But why do we give more to some than others? For instance, the number of donations that relief agencies are receiving to help flood relief in Pakistan is lagging when compared to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts. The answer, according to researchers, is that giving to charity is heavily dependent on personal return and perception.

Personal Returns Improve Likelihood That we Give to Charity

According to a 2009 study by Yale economist Dean Karlan, people are more likely to give to charity when they will gain personally from the donation. For instance, alumni solicited by letters were more likely to donate when they knew they would be recognized publicly for their charitable act. An earlier study by University of Chicago economist John List, found that door-to-door fundraising was more successful if lottery tickets were sold with a portion of the ticket going to charity. The same study also showed that if the solicitor was an attractive female, donations actually improved past the lottery incentive. This was especially true if the donor was male.

Moving personal gain to one side, research at the University of Oregon has shown that donations were more likely to occur if a personal story was attached to the request. In one study, donations to Save the Children were more likely to occur when a picture and personal story was provided with the requests. With this in mind, perhaps the pictures of flooding in Pakistan have not been as telling as the pictures of Haiti after the earthquake.

Such personal stories can be found throughout Microgiving. Each of our recipients has a personal story to tell, and you are encouraged to search our site and familiarize yourselves with all recipients. We’re know you want to make the world a better place, so we’ve developed an innovative new platform designed to allow you to give to charity as you choose. Start donating today, and let the wave of positivity spread.