Giving Compass’ Take:
· Logic suggests that charity would do the most good when treated like an investment—looking for the biggest impact per dollar—but that’s generally not how donors behave. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, marketing professor Deborah Small examines why donors give based on emotions and not logic.
· Why do donors listen to their hearts over their minds when it comes to giving? What kind of limitations can come from this type of charitable giving?
· Read more about maximizing the benefits of charity.
Knowledge@Wharton: It seems that many of us rely more on our hearts than our minds when it comes to picking charities. What is it about acting with our emotions that causes problems with charitable giving?
Deborah Small: The emotions we feel about causes aren’t necessarily directed towards the causes for which our dollars can do the most good. For instance, in the United States, it costs over $40,000 to train a single guide dog for the blind. People really want to support this cause. However, you can save a child’s life in much of the developing world by donating to a charity fighting malaria for under $4,000. People seem less sympathetic towards this cause or less motivated to support this cause, yet they could ultimately do more good if they chose causes for which the impact of their dollars went the furthest.
Knowledge@Wharton: What is influencing donors’ decision-making?
Deborah Small: I think people want to support causes for which they feel a personal connection and think it’s morally appropriate to do so. They think that this is the right way to choose charities. It’s not that charity is something for which there’s an objectively better answer. They think of it in much more of a subjective sense — similar to what kind of food you prefer. Do you prefer to eat Italian food or sushi? Are you a breast cancer person or are you a lung cancer person?
Read the full article about the influences behind charitable giving at Knowledge@Wharton.
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