In their 2010 study drawing on 500 empirical philanthropy studies, Bekkers and Wiepking identified eight consistently significant giving mechanisms. The pilot study reported here extends what is known about one mechanism, values, as a giving driver, in particular considering how national cultural values apply to giving. Personal values are not formed in a vacuum. They are influenced by the wider culture and society: thus values have a socio-cultural dimension. Accordingly, this pilot research draws on media theory and cultural studies work on national ethos to explore how these national cultural values interact with giving. A directed qualitative content analysis has been undertaken to compare US and Australian print media coverage about philanthropy. The two nations share an Anglo–Saxon orientation but differ significantly in national character and philanthropic activity. This study posits that a nation's media coverage about giving will reflect its national cultural ethos. This coverage can also shape personal values, thus implications exist for theory about the antecedents of personal giving values. Wider national values may drive or stifle giving, so this wider view of values as a driver has implications also for philanthropy promotion and fundraising. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.