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Feeling poor, acting stingy: the effect of money perceptions on charitable giving

Authors

  • Pamala Wiepking,

    Corresponding author
    • Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology & Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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    • This paper describes work done while the primary author's permanent affiliation was with the Department of Philanthropic Studies at VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Beth Breeze

    1. Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent, UK
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Pamala Wiepking, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology & Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP), Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738 (M6-44), 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

E-mail: wiepking@fsw.eur.nl

Abstract

In research on philanthropy, much attention has been given to the impact of the actual economic costs of giving. This paper argues that the perceived psychological costs of giving should also be taken into consideration when seeking to understand donations to charitable organizations. It is already known that people differ in their attitudes towards money, and that money attitudes are mostly independent from income, but these findings have been largely overlooked in the study of philanthropy and altruism. This paper seeks to rectify that omission by investigating the relationship between charitable giving and money perceptions. The analyses show that, regardless of the actual financial resources held by a donor, the size of their donations is negatively affected by feelings of retention (a careful approach to money) and inadequacy (people who worry about their financial situation). We conclude that an understanding of money perceptions is an additional important factor in the understanding of charitable behaviour. Fundraising professionals should not only select potential donors based on their absolute financial capacities but also take the potential donor's own financial perceptions into account when asking for donations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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