Charitable Motivation: Emotional Or Logical?

Charity giving

“The whole issue of measuring and metrics and trying to have impact data is, I think, a very contemporary part of philanthropy,” said Thomas E. K. Cerruti, former personal lawyer to Sam Skaggs, a billionaire philanthropist who made his fortune in supermarkets and drugstores. “What motivates people to give? For selfish reasons, a name on a building is at the top of the list. But some people want to effectuate something that has some personal interest to them. Other types of motivations are hard to analyze.”

When it comes to giving to charity, who wins when it’s the “head vs. heart” scenario? Emotional ties to a charity are strong, yet there are many considering a logical approach to measurable donations.

The head vs. the heart, as it occurs in charitable planning, was the topic of a recent article in The New York Times titled “Two Paths for Charitable Giving: From the Head or From the Heart.

The key question posed by the author: “Is it better to give in response to an emotional need or feeling, or are dollars better spent when tied to a metric that measures how effective they are?”

So, do you give charitably simply because it feels good and perhaps has a positive impact to which you can personally relate based on your own life and experience? Alternatively, do you give with a focus on doing the most measurable good with the assets gifted?

For many donors, giving is a matter of “and” – it is a matter of the head and the heart. The original article is worth reading, especially if you want to have a better understanding of the motivations behind generosity.

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Reference: The New York Times (June 28, 2013) “Two Paths for Charitable Giving: From the Head or From the Heart

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