The Philanthropy Reader

Explore how wealth and elitism impacts philanthropy and giving. Discuss which populations are more likely to be beneficent. What are the factors that influence giving among elite and non-elite donors? Your answer must have at least two citations and corresponding references – one from the relevant course text, and one from an academic journal article published within the past 5 – 7 years.

The Philanthropy Reader by Michael Moody and Beth Breeze

  • “Wealthy donors come to philanthropy from the context of what Schervish calls their “moral biography”, by which he means a conscious combination of personal capacity and moral compass” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 170)
  • “Capitalism has allowed the wealthy to prove themselves the “fittest” and they should therefore be in charge of administering charitable wealth for the good of those less fit” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 171)
  • “Bill Gates shares the belief that being wealthy carries with it the clear obligation to be philanthropic, and shares Carnegie’s disappointment at how little is done to help the unfortunate” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 171)
  • “Carnegie and Gates also share belief that the wealthy must be diligent to give in the most effective way possible, especially when trying to solve very complex global problems” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 171)
  • “Elite donors are often critiqued for both their giving and their explanation of it. Regardless of whether one considers the philanthropists’ accounts as sincere and heartfelt or not, it is important to pay attention to these critiques, especially when they focus on perceived problems with elite philanthropy itself rather than individual major donors” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 171)
  • “One critique of elite philanthropy sees wealthy mega-donors as using their philanthropy to advance their own interests and to support causes that benefit the rich rather than the truly needy” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 172)
  • “Elite donors see culture of philanthropy as affluent institutions, board meetings, and fundraising galas, and that perpetuates an ideology justifying their own elite status” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 172)
  • “The giving by these elites largely serves their own interests through supporting “high culture” “high education” of Ivy League institutions, “high medicine” of private hospitals, and so on” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 172)
  • “It is like path of climbing social status such as social climbing in one’s social rank” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 172)
  • “There are many other motivations in which the wealthy give. First there are tax incentives. There are also religious and spiritual obligations, family traditions, guilt and prestige to name just a few” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 195)
  • Motives for philanthropy:
    • Identification – motivation for others
    • Taking a gift with gratitude – desire to give back
    • Financial security – desire to limit the amount of bequests to heirs, and the world constructing disposition of hyperagency
    • Limiting transfers to heirs – best use of excess wealth
    • Satisfaction of philia – encountered in the family where family members learn to love others as they love themselves
    • Hyperagency – the capacity to make history (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 198)
  • “One respondent observed that “someone or his wife gets very concerned about their status in society” and will try to get involved with organizations so that “they can take their – as the British would say – rightful place in society” (Moody & Breeze, 2016, p. 218)

Giving Behaviors of Millionaires

  • Wealthy people may be more generous in donating to charity if they expect no direct benefits. Once a strategic element is added to the environment – for example, a minimum required donation amount – they might become less generous” (Paul Smeets, Rob Bauer, & Uri Gneezy, 2015)
  • “Our results show that the behavior of wealthy individuals is substantially different from that of other groups, like students and members from representative survey panels. Because wealthy individuals can have a large influence on economic outcomes, it is worth studying their behaviors in another context” (Paul Smeets, Rob Bauer, & Uri Gneezy, 2015)

Reciprocity belief and gratitude as moderators of the association between social status and charitable giving

  • “As predicted, high-status participants donated more money when they held a stronger belief in reciprocity, whereas low-status participants tended to be more generous in their donations when they felt more gratitude.” (Liu and Hao, 2017)

“For high-status individuals, their own value of personal success and prestige can be satisfied through signaling their good deed during social interactions with others. Moreover, the personal capacity (e.g., economic resources and power) of high-status individuals ensures them to form an expectation and belief that what they have invested will be rewarded. On the contrary, relative resource scarcity experienced by low-status individuals constrains their ability to thrive independently; rather, they tend to survive through their connections with others. Low-status individuals’ accumulated experience of being indebted from past social interactions may therefore make them more aware of others’ needs.” (Liu and Hao, 2017)

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