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How donors choose charities: the role of personal taste and experiences in giving decisions

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The question of how donors decide which charities to support, as opposed to questions about whether to give and how much to give, has been under-researched. This article presents findings from a qualitative study of 60 committed donors in the United Kingdom and concludes that charitable decision making is primarily driven by donors' tastes and personal background, and that inertia and path dependency also account for many of their current donation decisions. Despite subscribing to popular beliefs that charitable giving should be directed primarily to the needy, donors often support organisations that promote their own preferences, that help people with whom they feel some affinity and that support causes that relate to their own life experiences.
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Keywords: CHARITABLE DONATIONS; GIVING; MOTIVATIONS; PHILANTHROPY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 2013

More about this publication?
  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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