Category Archives: wealth

Global Giving: Open Grant Proposal

Here’s an unusual thing for you to read: I am posting a brief description of a grant proposal that I will submit for the ‘vici’-competition of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research 2019 later this year. You can download the “pre-proposal” here. It is called “Global Giving”. With the study I aim to describe and explain philanthropy in a large number of countries across the world. I invite you to review the “pre-proposal” and suggest improvements; please use the comments box below, or write to me directly.

You may have heard the story that university researchers these days spend a lot of their time writing grant proposals for funding competitions. Also you may have heard the story that chances of success in such competitions are getting smaller and smaller. These stories are all true. But the story you seldom hear is how such competitions actually work: they are a source of stress, frustration, burnouts and depression, and a complete waste of the precious time of the smartest people in the world. Recently, Gross and Bergstrom found that “the effort researchers waste in writing proposals may be comparable to the total scientific value of the research that the funding supports”.

Remember the last time you saw the announcement of prize winners in a research grant competition? I have not heard a single voice in the choir of the many near-winners speak up: “Hey, I did not get a grant!” It is almost as if everybody wins all the time. It is not common in academia to be open about failures to win. How many vitaes you have seen recently contain a list of failures? This is a grave distortion of reality. Less than one in ten applications is succesful. This means that for each winning proposal there are at least nine proposals that did not get funding. I want you to know how much time is wasted by this procedure. So here I will be sharing my experiences with the upcoming ‘vici’-competition.

single-shot-santa

First let me tell you about the funny name of the competition. The name ‘vici’ derives from roman emperor Caesar’s famous phrase in Latin: ‘veni, vidi, vici’, which he allegedly used to describe a swift victory. The translation is: “I came, I saw, I conquered”. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (‘Nederlandse organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek’, NWO) thought it fitting to use these names as titles of their personal grant schemes. The so-called ‘talent schemes’ are very much about the personal qualities of the applicant. The scheme heralds heroes. The fascination with talent goes against the very nature of science, where the value of an idea, method or result is not measured by the personality of the author, but by its validity and reliability. That is why peer review is often double blind and evaluators do not know who wrote the research report or proposal.

plt132

Yet in the talent scheme, the personality of the applicant is very important. The fascination with talent creates Matthew effects, first described in 1968 by Robert K. Merton. The name ‘Matthew effect’ derives from the biblical phrase “For to him who has will more be given” (Mark 4:25). Simply stated: success breeds success. Recently, this effect has been documented in the talent scheme by Thijs Bol, Matthijs de Vaan and Arnout van de Rijt. When two applicants are equally good but one – by mere chance – receives a grant and the other does not, the ‘winner’ is ascribed with talent and the ‘loser’ is not. The ‘winner’ then gets a tremendously higher chance of receiving future grants.

As a member of committees for the ‘veni’ competition I have seen how this works in practice. Applicants received scores for the quality of their proposal from expert reviewers before we interviewed them. When we had minimal differences between the expert reviewer scores of candidates – differing only in the second decimal – personal characteristics of the researchers such as their self-confidence and manner of speaking during the interview often made the difference between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Ultimately, such minute differences add up to dramatically higher chances to be a full professor 10 years later, as the analysis in Figure 4 of the Bol, De Vaan & Van de Rijt paper shows.

matthew

My career is in this graph. In 2005, I won a ‘veni’-grant, the early career grant that the Figure above is about. The grant gave me a lot of freedom for research and I enjoyed it tremendously. I am pretty certain that the freedom that the grant gave me paved the way for the full professorship that I was recently awarded, thirteen years later. But back then, the size of the grant did not feel right. I felt sorry for those who did not make it. I knew I was privileged, and the research money I obtained was more than I needed. It would be much better to reduce the size of grants, so that a larger number of researchers can be funded. Yet the scheme is there, and it is a rare opportunity for researchers in the Netherlands to get funding for their own ideas.

This is my third and final application for a vici-grant. The rules for submission of proposals in this competition limit the number of attempts to three. Why am I going public with this final attempt?

The Open Science Revolution

You will have heard about open science. Most likely you will associate it with the struggle to publish research articles without paywalls, the exploitation of government funded scientists by commercial publishers, and perhaps even with Plan S. You may also associate open science with the struggle to get researchers to publish the data and the code they used to get to their results. Perhaps you have heard about open peer review of research publications. But most likely you will not have heard about open grant review. This is because it rarely happens. I am not the first to publish my proposal; the Open Grants repository currently contains 160 grant proposals. These proposals were shared after the competitions had run. The RIO Journal published 52 grant proposals. This is only a fraction of all grant proposals being created, submitted and reviewed. The many advantages of open science are not limited to funded research, they also apply to research ideas and proposals. By publishing my grant proposal before the competition, the expert reviews, the recommendations of the committee, my responses and experiences with the review process, I am opening up the procedure of grant review as much as possible.

Stages in the NWO Talent Scheme Grant Review Procedure

Each round of this competition takes almost a year, and proceeds in eight stages:

  1. Pre-application – March 26, 2019 <– this is where we are now
  2. Non-binding advice from committee: submit full proposal, or not – Summer 2019
  3. Full proposal – end of August 2019
  4. Expert reviews – October 2019
  5. Rebuttal to criticism in expert reviews – end of October 2019
  6. Selection for interview – November 2019
  7. Interview – January or February 2020
  8. Grant, or not – March 2020

If you’re curious to learn how this application procedure works in practice,
check back in a few weeks. Your comments and suggestions on the ideas above and the pre-proposal are most welcome!

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Filed under altruism, charitable organizations, data, economics, empathy, experiments, fundraising, happiness, helping, household giving, incentives, methodology, open science, organ donation, philanthropy, politics, principle of care, psychology, regression analysis, regulation, sociology, statistical analysis, survey research, taxes, trends, trust, volunteering, wealth

Hoe rijker, hoe minder vrijgevig?

Economen spreken van een basisgoed als de consumptie ervan relatief gesproken afneemt met het inkomen. Dit geldt heel duidelijk voor geven aan goede doelen. Hogere inkomens en vermogens doen in euro’s meer aan filantropie, maar als deel van hun inkomen en vermogen juist minder. In de jubileumeditie van Geven in Nederland (GIN) publiceerden Arjen de Wit, Pamala Wiepking en ik een special, waarin waarin we alle gegevens over giften uit de jaren 2001-2015 hebben gecombineerd en de inkomens in decielen (groepen van 10%) hebben ingedeeld. De invloed van uitschieters hebben we verminderd door de 1% hoogste waarnemingen te winsoriseren, dat wil zeggen ze te behandelen alsof ze net iets lager zijn. Met uitschieters is het plaatje overigens niet veel anders, de lijn loopt nog steeds naar beneden, maar minder recht.

Fig24

Het percentage van het inkomen dat huishoudens doneren aan goededoelenorganisaties neemt stelselmatig af met de hoogte van het inkomen. De 10% huishoudens die de laagste inkomens in Nederland verdienen, geven 1,16% van het inkomen aan goede doelen. Onder de hoogste 10% van de inkomens is dat 0,44%.

Vivienne van Leuken vroeg me per e-mail hoe dit komt.

Er zijn grofweg drie groepen verklaringen voor deze bevinding.

  1. Het ligt aan de gevers:
    • (a) rijkdom maakt mensen hebberig;
    • (b) hebberige mensen worden rijker.
  2. Het ligt aan de vragers:
    • (a) goededoelenorganisaties spreken de taal niet waarin ze de rijken kunnen overtuigen,
    • (b) goededoelenorganisaties hebben niet de juiste netwerken en
    • (c) goededoelenorganisaties doen niet de juiste proposities.
  3. Het ligt aan de samenleving:
    • (a) dat je moet geven is de norm, maar niet dat je meer moet geven naarmate je inkomen stijgt;
    • (b) voor verschillende soorten giften is er een geefstandaard, een bedrag dat normaal is om te geven. Die geefstandaard is een specifiek bedrag en niet relatief naar inkomen en vermogen;
    • (c) De vrijgevigheidsnorm dat je een deel van je inkomen zou moeten geven is in de loop van de geschiedenis verdwenen. Bovendien houdt met de ontkerkelijking een steeds kleiner deel van de bevolking zich aan zulke normen.

In elk van deze verklaringen zit wel een kern van waarheid, maar er is nog geen goed onderzoek dat aantoont in welke mate deze drie soorten verklaringen verantwoordelijk zijn voor de afname van de vrijgevigheid met inkomen en vermogen.

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The force of everyday philanthropy

Public debates on philanthropy link charitable giving to wealth. In the media we hear a lot about the giving behavior of billionaires – about the giving pledge, the charitable foundations of the wealthy, how the causes they support align their business interests, and how they relate to government programs. Yes – the billions of tech giants go a long way. Imagine a world without support from foundations created by wealthy. But we hear a lot less about the everyday philanthropy of people like you and me. The media rarely report on everyday acts of generosity. The force of philanthropy is not only in its focus and mass, but also in its breadth and popularity.

It is one of the common remarks I hear when family, friends and colleagues return from holidays in ‘developing countries’ like Moldova, Myanmar or Morocco: “the people there have nothing, but they are so kind and generous!” The kindness and generosity that we witness as tourists are manifestations of prosociality, the very same spirit that is the ultimate foundation of everyday philanthropy. And also within our own nations, we find that most people give to charity. Why are people in Europe so strongly engaged in philanthropy?

The answer is trust

In Europe we are much more likely to think that most people can be trusted than in other parts of the world. It is this faith in humanity that is crucial for philanthropy. We can see this in a comparison of countries within Europe. The figure combines data from the World Giving Index reports of CAF from 2010-2017 on the proportion of the population giving to charity with data from the Global Trust Research Consortium on generalized social trust. The figure shows that citizens of more trusting countries in Europe are much more likely to give to charities (you can get the data here, and the code is here). The correlation is .52, which is strong.

Trust_Giving_EU

Egalité et fraternité

One of the reasons why citizens in more trusting countries are more likely to give to charity is that trust is lower in more unequal countries. Combining the data on trust with data from the OECD on income inequality (GINI) reveals a substantial negative correlation of -.37. The larger the differences in income and wealth in a country become, the lower the level of trust that people have in each other. As the wealth of the rich increases, the poor get increasingly envious, and the rich feel an increasing urge to protect their wealth. In such a context, conspiracy theories thrive and institutions that should be impartial and fair to all are trusted less. The criticism that wealthy donors face also stems from this foundation: those concerned with equality and fairness fear the elite power of philanthropy. Et voila: here is the case why it is in the best interest of foundations to reduce inequality.

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Buying Time Promotes Happiness

In a new paper, we used data from the Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey to examine the relationship between spending money to outsource household tasks and happiness. The key result is that those who do spend money in this way are happier. The paper was published in PNAS and is freely available through the open access option. The paper is lead-authored by Ashley Whillans (Harvard Business School), and co-authored by Elizabeth Dunn (University of British Columbia), Paul Smeets (Maastricht University) and Michael Norton (Harvard Business School). All study data and study materials are available through the OSF (https://osf.io/vr9pa/). Hypotheses for the analyses were preregistered here.

PNAS_17

Click here to read the paper.

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Update: Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey User Manual

A new version of the User Manual for the Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey is now available: version 2.2.

The GINPS12 questionnaire is here (in Dutch).

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Tien Filantropie Trends

  1. Nalatenschappen: goededoelenorganisaties ontvangen steeds meer inkomsten uit nalatenschappen, naar verwachting €86 miljard tot 2059.
  2. Evenementen: goededoelenorganisaties ontvangen steeds meer inkomsten uit evenementen zoals Alpe d’Huzes waar enthousiaste vrijwilligers sponsorgelden voor werven.
  3. Werknemersvrijwilligerswerk: bedrijven sponsoren steeds minder direct met geld, en sturen hun medewerkers liever op maatschappelijk verantwoord teamuitje zoals NL Doet.
  4. Vertrouwen onder druk: het traditioneel hoge niveau van vertrouwen in goededoelenorganisaties daalt structureel en lijdt incidenteel verlies door ophef over salarissen.
  5. Lokalisering: lokale nonprofit organisaties zoals musea en ziekenhuizen gaan fondsenwerven, internationale hulporganisaties ontvangen steeds minder.
  6. Dynamiek in geefgedrag: donateurs zijn steeds minder trouw aan goededoelenorganisaties en doen vaker incidentele giften zoals bij sponsoracties.
  7. Druk op het waterbed: de overheid bezuinigt en probeert burgers meer bij te laten bijdragen, onder meer door fiscale maatregelen zoals de Geefwet.
  8. Meer transparantie:  goededoelenorganisaties in het ANBI-register worden per 1 januari 2014 verplicht openheid te geven over hun financiën en beleid.
  9. Doe-het-zelf filantropie met crowdfunding: steeds vaker werven mensen geld voor hun eigen goede doel via sociale media en geefplatforms zoals Voordekunst.nl
  10. Mega-donors: terwijl de giften van het mediane huishouden afnemen, geven vermogende Nederlanders steeds meer.

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Wealth and Giving in the Netherlands

This post in pdf

How generous are the wealthy? Surely wealth enables citizens to give higher amounts to charitable causes, but does wealth also make people more generous? Do the wealthy give a higher proportion of their income?

Using data from the High Net Worth supplement to the 2012 wave Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey we can answer this question. Nearly all of the 1,307 respondents (95%) reported donations to charitable causes in the calendar year 2011. Average giving amounted to €5,195.

Donations represent 1.88 of annual income and 0.3% of total wealth among respondents in the sample. The proportion of income donated by the wealthy respondents is twice the proportion donated by respondents in the sample representative of the Dutch population (0.94%).

Among the respondents in the HNW supplement, donations as a proportion of income decrease with income, from 2.2% of income in the first quintile to 1.6% in the top income quintile.

Donations as a proportion of wealth also decline with wealth: in the first wealth quintile, donations represent 0.7% of wealth, declining to 0.1% in the top wealth quintile. As a proportion of income, however, donations increase with wealth. In the first wealth quintile, donations represent 1.7% of income; in the top wealth quintile, donations represent 2.5% of income.

The source of wealth is consistently related to the level of generosity: both measured as a proportion of income and as a proportion of wealth, donations are highest among ‘New Wealth’ respondents, who earned their wealth primarily with their own business. In contrast, amounts donated were lowest among those who inherited wealth.

Methodology – Data presented here are based on a sample from a privately held database provided by Elite Research of 10,000 addresses in the Netherlands with wealth exceeding €60k. Fieldwork took place in May-June 2012 through an online survey and written questionnaires; response rate: 13%.

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