Understanding Donors’ Motivations

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The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana State University

This new Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University report concludes that the motivations of donors are highly correlated to level of income and education rather than to regional trends and values. More than 10,000 households were surveyed for the report, funded by the Community Counseling Service. The study revealed that 18 percent of respondents claimed they wanted to help meet the poor’s basic needs – such as food, shelter and clothing – while 17 percent reasoned that they wanted to make the world a better place.

The report found that donors with higher incomes ($100,000 or greater) and at least some college education were less likely to donate for basic needs or for helping the poor help themselves and more likely to donate to help improve the community and to make the world a better place. Lower income donors ($50,000 or less) with high school education or less were more prone to donate for the basic needs of people.

Those who were motivated by making the world a better place tended to give a larger average amount than those who donated to help with basic needs. It was the top motivation for donors with college education and the second highest for those without college education.

The report suggests that the findings can help organizations strategize for sponsorships and donations. Free, 41 pages, http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/Research/docs/2009CCS_FinalReport.pdf.