Following up on the interesting blog from last week, here is another, more personal view.
It was always more or less clear to me why a government would want to give to a common cause – their motivation is often connected to a policy goal; it can be more economical providing a service directly; or it can have a direct political benefit to those in power. Or why a corporation should do it – good practice of corporate-social responsibility or engaging in corporate philanthropy bring positive image and have a positive impact on the brand, sales, etc. I even get why a celebrity has to give – they are often subject of scrutiny for their wealth and lifestyle and giving can take the edge off of that. Super rational, right? Easy to understand whatever we thought of these motives.
But why does an average citizen from an average family with an average pay struggling to pay off a 25 year mortgage or put children through university give. Especially as there is no immediate and clear rational payback – no material benefit, no plaque or a school with a name, and only marginal savings through tax incentives (even that is not available in all countries!). And people still give! Significant amounts of money in the West ($211.77 billion in 2010 in US alone) and, as the last week’s blog showed, even in this region, individuals give more every year.