Monthly Archives: September 2011

Why do people give?

It is one of the most fundamental questions in the field of philanthropic studies: why do people give? Hundreds of studies have been published containing answers to this question. It turns out that these studies can be categorized into eight groups of mechanisms: ‘levers’ or ‘buttons’ that can be used by fundraisers and policy makers to influence the level of philanthropy.

This is the result of a naively ambitious project that I started in 2007 when I was still working at the Department of Sociology at Utrecht University. I tried to give a comprehensive overview of the academic literature on charitable giving. Pamala Wiepking joined in, and we completed a first version as a background study for the ‘Science of Generosity’ Request for Proposals. ‘Impossible to publish’ was one of the most frequently heard comments from colleagues. That’s one of the reasons why we are grateful that Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly digested about half of the original paper and published it in September 2011. Here it is.

Background materials for the study can be found on

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Filed under charitable organizations, household giving