A peak behind the curtain: what motivates men to give

behind the curtain

A recent study out of Stanford University pulls the curtain back on philanthropic gender behaviors .  The study conducted by Willer, R., Wimer, C., Owens, L.A., and entitled What drives the gender gap in charitable giving? Lower empathy leads men to give less to poverty relief, Social Science Research (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.12.014 looks at how empathy can explain the gender gap in charitable giving.  In this nationally conducted survey, the researchers tested messaging directed to the genders testing their willingness to give money or volunteer time to a poverty relief organization.  What was found that in general, women donated to the organization at a higher rate than men responding well to messages that sought an empathetic response.  After testing various approaches on men, they found that by crafting an appeal that created an “aligned self-interest” or a clear message of how this issue affects them brought their giving up to a level on par with women.  The survey found that women responded to an empathetic appeal, but men responded to messaging that aligned the cause with their own self-interest.

While this study was focused around one type of charitable organization, I wonder how widely we can apply these findings.  If men react this way to an appeal for a poverty relief organization, would they not react in the same way for an education, or social service agency? My experience from organizations I have worked with would be “yes!” I am interested in what your organization has found.  Please reply to this blog and share if your organization has seen these same gender results.




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