More Than Money
Issue #2

What Makes Giving Satisfying?

Table of Contents

“Approaches to Giving”

Nuggets from an Academic Study

A professor at Boston College recently studied 140 millionaires, and among them determined twelve different "social strategies of philanthropy." We invite you to look through them with an eye towards these questions:

  • Do you feel approving towards some of these approaches and disapproving towards others?
  • Do any describe how you were taught to give by your family?
  • Which one(s) feel like they describe how you give now?
  • If you were to experiment with a new approach, what might that look like?

Energy Givers

These include: Adopters , who get personally involved with the individual recipients of their giving (e.g. a supporter of a Boys Club who is a "big brother" to several boys); Entrepreneurs , who fund bold new ideas, often investing their full-time energy as well as money; Business Owners , who consider their businesses to be philanthropic, either because they create socially uplifting products or because they provide jobs and income for people who need it; and Managers , who contribute not only money but their managerial skills in order to increase the effectiveness of groups they care about.

Restricted Givers

These include: Noblesse Oblige givers, who carry on a tradition of class-obligated philanthropy, while their giving is limited by the greater obligation to keep passing the family fortune from one generation to the next; and Contributors , who may give their money quite generously, but never do more than provide funds.

Social Givers

These include: Consumers , who support organizations which give some direct benefit to their families (e.g., contributing to a private school with the expectation that children and grandchildren will attend it); Role-fulfillers , who give as a way to fulfill their responsibilities in the larger social structure (e.g., a lawyer in a firm where everyone is expected to do public service, or an upper class wife who is expected to do volunteer service); Empowerers , who experience conflict between their egalitarian ideals and their privileged class standing, and so give to empower the oppressed and to relieve guilt; and the Exchangers , who respond to the funding requests of friends and associates, and expect their associates to return the favor.

Organizing Givers

These include: Brokers , who raise funds for their causes from other wealthy individuals; and Catalysts , who not only give their own time and energy to causes, but work to mobilize others with the aim of building social movements that will change public policy.


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