The philanthropy expert explains why people give.
Question: Why do people donate to charities?
Katherina Rosqueta: We do know there are several motivations for why people give. One of the biggest ones is, simply, they are asked. And so, it's a reaction or request by somebody who either they have a personal connection to or who's describing a need that somehow resonates with them.
Other folks give because they see themselves as a member of a particular community. And they feel like they have a responsibility or role in that community as a leader. And philanthropy is one way that they demonstrate that leadership.
There are others who have been motivated because of a particular trigger event. They lost their mom to cancer and because of that personal experience, have become committed to addressing that issue and hopefully alleviating some of the pain and suffering that they experience in their family as a result of mom having cancer.
One thing that was interesting from a study that we conducted, where we interviewed 33 high net worth individual philanthropist, was how much of the information they get around their philanthropy comes from a pretty narrow set of information sources right now. It's the popular press, the sort of major periodicals. And it's their friends, their social network, their peer network.
And one of the reasons our center [The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania] was started is because, if you're really trying to figure out where your dollars can do the most good, you need some pretty good information to make a smart decision.
We talk about the million dollar question of the kinds of philanthropists we're trying to help are asking. And that is, "I'm not the kind of guy who wants the name on the building. This isn't about social philanthropy. This is about my trying to figure out where I can do the most good with the dollars I have."
Recorded on: April 23, 2009.