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Do we understand what is
happening to the face of
philanthropy in the UK?
Voluntary Sector and Volunteering
Research Conference 2014

Peter Maple, London South Bank University

1. Introduction
With what is generally regarded, for the voluntary sector, as a flat UK economy and the
continued retreat of government from many funding streams there is increasing funding
pressure on charities and other not for profit organisations so fundraisers are usually desperate to
increase donations. As a result many are becoming more interested in examining philanthropic
motivations to help to predict giving behaviour. There are however already a number of existing
academic and practical models that aim to describe these motivations and the behaviour of
people who give (and perhaps, even more importantly, dont give) to charity.
From Carlsons (1968) work Why people give and Prince and Files (1994) Seven Faces of
Philanthropy to Dawkins (2006) The Selfish Gene authors have tended to characterise
charitable behaviour as rather fixed. That is, whilst individuals learn certain altruistic behaviour
(from parents or society) their subsequent giving tends to mirror a general (learned or inherited)
response to give particular ways. For example Breeze and Lloyd (2013) in Why rich people give
draw on some hard evidence amongst a number of very wealthy individuals but goes on to
suggest these behaviours can be used to predict or at least model the response of other,
apparently, like minded people. This, for the major gift fundraiser or indeed anyone designing an
individual giver strategy, may lead to some over simplifications.
The author argues (Maple 2008 and 2012) that we are all far more situational than most
models suggest and crucially, that we are able to move along (or around) a spectrum of
philanthropy from the most unselfish, genuinely altruistic actions right along to an area of
enlightened self-interest. There is, of course behaviour that is purely self-seeking, under the
apparent guise of philanthropy but the author believes such behaviour is beyond the visible
spectrum of philanthropy, perhaps beyond even the infra-red end of this spectrum and not a
subject to be covered by this iteration of the model.
This paper seeks to put a conceptual framework around the context of research currently in
progress with a range of not for profit organisations and supporters giving money regularly to
these causes.
2. Altruism
At the one end of the spectrum there are the deeds that seek no reward or acknowledgement.
The work of Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) in the later years of his life was certainly altruistic.
Having amassed a fortune in American iron and steel, he stated that there was nothing inherently
wrong in a man making a fortunate, but to die rich was to die in disgrace. He spent the last years
of his life setting up foundations and disposing of his fortune.
Richard Titmuss (1972) in his seminal exploration of the donation of blood The gift
relationship looks at attitudes towards public health in the UK where for many years blood has
been donated by members of the general public in return for nothing more than a thank you and
a small badge when a defined number of donations have been make. He then compares and

contrasts with other countries where people are paid for the blood that they donate. Attitudes
both specifically to the blood service and to public health in general vary very significantly. Of
particular interest to fundraisers is that Titmuss contends that blood donation is an act of altruism
or, as he has it, creative altruism.
Yet, it is suggested, there is no one clear definition of an act of altruism. Very different definitions
have been ascribed to the term, from unconditional acts of giving, to reciprocal acts which
benefit both giver and receiver. In this article altruism is taken as one end of the spectrum of
unselfish concern and gifts made without any expectation or desire for acknowledgement.
Incidentally the author (Maple 2010) is on record as believing that donors give blood and body
parts whilst people give money and so should be regarded as givers.
3. Reciprosity
Moving along the spectrum into the area of reciprocity we find a large number of people and
fundraising activities. Traditionally charity shops, sales, bazaars, fetes and fairs all offer a tangible
benefit to the recipient whilst he or she can still enjoy a warm glow in the knowledge that the sale
proceeds are going totally (or certainly in large part) to the cause organising the activity. From
Christmas cards to lotteries and raffles, the purchaser experiences a reciprocal transaction even
though the value of the goods may be trivial in relation to the sum paid.
The crucial progression along the spectrum is that movement from no reward whatsoever,
thorough acknowledgement and perhaps a little bit of immortality through prestige and peer
admiration to more tangible returns in merchandise, services or the opportunity to win
significant prizes.
Throughout the charity world fundraisers are continually thinking up activities and events;
concerts, dinners, auctions where people will give and will receive something tangible in return.
Fundraising products can be created or modified with a particular audience in mind, but
importantly individuals can move into or out of the target group or catchment and can operate
both altruistically or reciprocally. There is unlikely to be an equality to the transaction but there
will never the less be a perception of value.
4. Self interest
At some point along the spectrum the return to the giver or supporter starts to become as
valuable to themselves as to the charity. This is, within this construct, where reciprocity becomes
enlightened self-interest. This point, along an infinitely variable spectrum, is within the perception
of the participants, rather than that of a neutral observer examining the actual monetary or social
value of the transaction.
Enlightened self-interest was a concept that Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) discussed in his
work Democracy in America. The notion he held was that Americans voluntarily join together in
associations to further the interests of the group and, thereby, to serve their own interests. Using

"self-interest rightly understood" to describe this concept, he combined the right of association
with the virtue to do what was right. This construct takes Tocquevilles concept further to
postulate that in acting philanthropically an important aspect of the transaction may be a strong
element of self-interest even though this may be observed externally as somewhat intangible.
Thus we see givers giving freely to cancer research charities both because they are grateful for
the benefits resulting to society from advances in treatment but also in the hope that they
themselves might benefit from further advances in years to come. Those individuals may move
through nearly every one of the seven faces as their individual experiences change their
A more obvious example of enlightened self-interest can be seen in the naming of a new school
or other high profile building after the individual benefactor. The monetary value of the donation
may not be perceived by others as worth say 3m (as in the case of a City Academy where
matched funding of up to 20m is provided by the UK Government) but for the individual
themselves the immortality achieved is well worth the cost.
5. Models characterising philanthropic
There are a number of models that attempt to analyse philanthropic motivation though in fact
most describe giving behaviour.
6. Seven faces of philanthropy
Prince and Files model is a very valuable tool in considering the motivations and behaviour of
major gift prospects. However people change and moreover individuals can shift attitudes and
behaviour quite rapidly in response to the right case for support. That gives fundraisers a very
exciting opportunity to act creatively in tailoring a particular ask or fundraising activity to a
particular prospect or target audience. The author comments (Maple 2003) that giver cultivation
is an area needing far more planning and strategy than currently applied by the majority of
The seven faces are described thus:
The Altruist: Doing good quietly feels like the right thing to do
The Repayer: Doing good is in return (sometimes seen as insurance)
The Dynast: Doing good is a family tradition I learned early on

The Devout: Doing good is very much Gods will and a duty
The Communitarian: Doing good simply makes sense
The Socialite: Doing good in company can be a lot of fun
The Investor: Doing good is good for business
The challenge is therefore for fundraisers to help givers, not simply on a journey up the
fundraising pyramid (Baguley 1996). Instead the journey could be on a spiral pyramid where the
case for support or reason to give can change in relation to the givers needs as much as those of
the charity.
7. Five philanthropic motivators
Breeze and Lloyd (2013) portray, in Why Rich People Give, motivational triggers as being
characterised around five distinct areas.
Belief in the cause
Being a catalyst for change
Duty and responsibility
However people change and furthermore, individuals can shift attitudes and behaviour quite
rapidly in response to the right case for support. These factors can provide fundraisers with a
very exciting opportunity.
8. Gift exchange theory
The theory of altruism (Becker, 1974) holds that individuals naturally want to improve the well
being of others. The person wants to see others in society better off; as a result, a rational person
will donate when the loss in utility from his reduction in private consumption is smaller than the
gain in his utility as a result of others increased happiness. Much literature has been written
challenging this theory.
Warm-glow, a alternative theory proposed by Andreoni (1990), asserts that in addition to
interdependent utility functions, the act of giving increases an individuals utility. Andreonis
model describes a persons utility function. The general form permits two other cases. The first is
when the person is purely altruistic and does not care about the gift. The second is when the

person is motivated only by the act of giving, or warm glow. Andreoni (1995) conducted a
laboratory experiment that found that people are significantly more willing to donate if appeals
are framed as positive externalities and not negative externalities. In other words, individuals are
more likely to donate if those who request donations focus on the positive results of donating
rather than the misfortunes that would occur if individual did not donate.
Jeroen van de Ven (2000) distinguishes the following six elements of gift exchange motivation

Motivation of giving Aim of giving
Altruism Making others happy
Egoism 1 Exchange
Egoism 2 Warm glow, social approval
Strategic Signalling, building trust
Fairness Norms, reducing inequality
Survival Selection

This is the most complete classification of the gift exchange motivation that describes roots of
the exchange participants behaviour. However in our opinion it is needed to add another
element of motivation that is based on such a feature of a gift as a social obligation of reciprocity:
a giver expects a recipient to return. Giving many people belonging to one group an agent
experiences concernment of his position in this group, he proves in the role of the informal
leader. This motivation is often called social power.
9. Who gives?
Bekkers and Wiepking (2011) conducted a comprehensive review of the literature and
concluded that that are a variety of mechanisms driving charitable giving. The two part article
Who gives? Is a very useful summary of much of the earlier research and was designed to help
guide scholars and practitioners providing knowledge on individual and household characteristics
as predictors of charitable giving.

In the first part (Bekkers and Wiepking, 2011a), they presented the evidence on the relationships
between giving and religion, education, age and socialisation. In this second part, they looked at
gender, family composition and income. For each predictor, they discussed the evidence for the
mechanisms that may explain why the predictor is correlated with giving. In earlier work, they had
already categorised and described eight major theoretical mechanisms that drive charitable giving
(Bekkers and Wiepking, 2007, 2011b). These mechanisms are:
awareness of need
costs and benefits
psychological benefits
These mechanisms emerged consistently from about 550 empirical articles studying
charitable giving and these eight mechanisms are intended as convenient summaries of the
multidisciplinary literature regarding charitable giving.
10. Philanthropic psychology
Sargeant and Shang (2009) have more recently coined this term in relation the behaviour of
givers in the US through research they have conducted looking at telephone fundraising
campaigns for public service broadcasters. They maintain that a solid understanding of giver
psychology can be used to increase the yield from fundraising appeals by an average of more
than 10 percent all by simply changing a word or two in the solicitation.
They advocate that an understanding of giver identity can help to develop the value of gifts whilst
an understanding of the role of priming and how and where to do this in fundraising
solicitations will assist the process dramatically. This work leads into a much broader discussion of
the move from transactional to relational fundraising and is reviewed in greater detail in section
12 the intersubjective
11. Other recent research
Of particular note is the work of the Cabinet Offices Nudge Unit with a report entitled
Applying behavioural insights to charitable giving (Sanders 2013). A test, working with the
Cooperative Funeral Services telephone team enabled differing prompts to be tried around the
proposition to leave a charitable bequest in a will. Enquiries were already ringing with will making
bequests and a benchmark 6% of those named at least one charity in their proposed wills.
However when prompted with the question as to whether they might like to remember a

favourite cause, the response rates nearly doubled to around 12%. Of even more interest, and
feeding into the Sargeant and Shang (2012) work was the additional suggestion that many
enquirers do indeed consider their favourite charities at which point response rates nearly trebled
to 17% There is much to be gained from a better understanding of the processes going on in
those interactions. See section 13 for further comment.
12. Recent and current LSBU research
Current research at LSBU is looking at how the fundraisers in 30 UK based charities (many with
international operations) characterise their regular and significant individual givers in order to
analyse and understand current custom and practice. Earlier research looking at how those same
organisations look after supporter cultivation (Maple 2009) indicated that whilst all bar two had
formal stewardship or cultivation programmes, none bar two had any reference to the use of a
conceptual model (such as described in sections 5-9) and agreed that they were operating sub-
Methodology for that phase one of the research consisted of structured interviews with
functional managers responsible for giver relations and semi-structured interviews with
overall directors of fundraising/marketing or chief executives
Phase two of the research involved structured Interviews with a sample of 12 regular givers and it
is intended to comment in more detail in the presentation accompanying this paper at the
conference in September.
Phase three will build upon the pilot results and consist of semi-structured interviews with a
further 88 regular charity givers. Results from that part of the research have been delayed and are
now expected in the summer of 2014
13. The intersubjective or space in between
What is already becoming clear from the pilot interviews is that some further consideration of
the relationship between potential givers and potential askers can be helped by an understanding
of the Intersubjective concept as described by Gilbert and Orlans (2011). They describe it where
two people will bring to their encounter their own inner experience as embedded in their
personal histories and in their present context. In this space in between we accept that the
reflective function is of critical importance in making possible constructive mutual interaction.
Thus for the fundraiser and giver there needs to be as much (and probably much more) going on
between the parties as shared empathy, mental representation, and belief, as there is in an
understanding of the transaction (the act of giving support in response to a need). There can be
real creativity within that space.
Researchers and fundraisers have long understood the value of relationship as opposed to
transactional fundraising (Sargeant 2001). However if we go further into what psychologists
refer to as the space in between we can begin to understand more clearly the vital importance

of the interactions between fundraiser and giver. An example of this has been observed in the
interviews with two regular charity givers who have themselves recently formed an overseas aid
charity. These two have successfully recruited several dozen further givers, within their own
community, through their interactions with the community. Members of the community are
engaged by the passion displayed and are themselves finding creative ways of supporting the
In another interview a woman describes her passion for Book Aid. I become that little girl with
national health spectacles and a burgeoning joy of reading that became a life long passion. She
visualizes children in Africa developing a similar passion for books and reading and so is a regular,
loyal, supporter of the charity.
Whilst these may be regarded to date as anecdotal observations they never the less have great
resonance with numerous other observations in interviews with charity givers.
14. Implications for on-going research
The next phase of the research will then take these early observations and look in depth at the
motivations of individual givers in each of the participating charities so as to refine and test the
spectrum of philanthropy model further so as to assist fundraisers develop more effective
strategies for their giving cultivation plans. It is also planed to have increased consideration of
the space in between and this will be commented upon further within the presentation in

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