By Rachel Schwimmer
In a time of unpredictable government economic policies, charities and nonprofit organizations are increasingly dependent on contributions from private individuals and families. Understanding the motivations for and patterns of philanthropic behavior is necessary for these organizations to attract new donors and grow their existing donor bases. One compelling area of research explores the connection between the charitable behavior of college students’ families and their own giving behavior. Studies like the one recently conducted by GG+A’s Survey Lab show, more specifically, show that students’ opinions about the importance of giving is strongly connected to the likelihood that their families have made charitable contributions.
The Lab studied survey responses of 276 two- and four-year college students and graduates. The results revealed a relatively even split between respondents who said their families are likely to make charitable contributions (55%) and those who said their families are unlikely to do so (45%). However, 79% of respondents who replied that their families are likely to give say that making charitable donations is also important to them. Of the students who said that their families are not likely to make a donation, only 30% said that charitable giving is important for them. In other words, 70% of these students do not consider charitable giving important. These findings indicate that philanthropy is something of a learned behavior.
Though students who come from philanthropic families are more inclined to give themselves, they also indicate that financial burdens imposed by high tuition costs and student loans limit their ability to give. This finding has implications for the ways in which universities target younger donors and highlights the negative impact of rising tuition on students’ future philanthropic behavior.
About the Author:
Rachel Schwimmer is a research intern at the GG+A Survey Lab. She focused on developing meaningful insights from the Lab’s collection of survey results. She is a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago.