Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Each year, six out of seven Americans donate less than 2% of their income and about a half of that group donates less than a $1 to charities or other causes. This article explores the reasons why people shy away from being overtly “generous”, claiming it can be culturally inherent. Some of the reasons people do not give away money include: the tendency to think that donating is not their responsibility, the belief that they do not have enough money to spare, the feeling that their plate is too full and can’t muster the time/energy to contribute, and the belief that the poor should help themselves. In short, people often do not donate out of an instilled anxiety of self preservation. One of the many reasons why this frame of thinking is unfortunate is because contributing can generate positivity:
“We find a strong and highly consistent association between generous practices and various measures of personal well-being like happiness, health, a sense of purpose in life, and personal growth.”
As mentioned in the article, the happiness ones feels from donating to a cause they believe in outweighs material happiness. It is important for arts managers, particularly those in development departments, to understand the barriers many (potential) donors face and help them become engaged in the organizations that peak their interest. Doing so will help the art industry prosper and help the individual generate more of that positivity.