Giving Compass’ Take:
• Martin Levine discusses the relationship between political affiliation and charitable giving: Republicans are giving more, but both parties retreat from giving as the political divide widens.
• How can funders help to reduce partisanship to increase charitable giving? How can the relationship between taxation and giving be better understood?
• Learn how the 2016 election impacted charitable giving.
The political differences between Republicans and Democrats don’t play out solely at the ballot box; they also predict how likely people are to donate to charity. This finding from a newly published research project reflects a key difference, one tied to political affiliation, about how our nation should take on critical social issues like homelessness, poverty, and health care. The data also suggest that in times of political strife, both parties’ supporters pull back, making problem-solving harder.
Using voting and IRS data for the residents of 3,000 counties across the nation, the four-professor research team found, according to the New York Times, that counties which are “overwhelmingly Republican” report higher charitable contributions than Democratic-dominated counties, although “giving in blue counties is often bolstered by a combination of charitable donations and higher taxes. But as red or blue counties become more politically competitive, charitable giving tends to fall.” The full study was recently published in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
Republicans do give more, but where that money ends up is not yet clear. One of the study’s authors, Rebecca Nesbit, associate professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia, told the New York Times that Republicans prefer to “provide for the collective good through private institutions. But we don’t know what type of institutions they’re giving to.” It also wasn’t obvious “whether donors were being purely generous or whether they would also benefit from their donation. This relationship is called consumption philanthropy, in which people give to a religious organization or a school from which they will derive a benefit in the form of, say, a better religious education program or a new gymnasium.” Giving to a food bank or a homeless shelter has a very different outcome than does giving to a private school.
Read the full article about political affiliation Iand charitable giving by Martin Levine at Nonprofit Quarterly.
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