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  • Andres Spokoiny

What Prompts Us to Give? Balancing Head and Heart


Ask most people what motivates philanthropy and they’ll probably say, “generosity.” But generosity isn’t simple. People give charity for many and overlapping reasons: tax advantages, social pressure (my friend asked me), ego (I want my name on a building), enlightened self-interest (I know a society that helps the powerless will be more prosperous and stable than a purely greedy society), admiration for particular leaders or institutions, outrage at injustice, empathy for people who are suffering, passion for culture, religious conviction, gratitude and a desire to give back, or countless other reasons.

Which motivations drive us — or rather, since competing motivations sometimes drive us in opposite directions, which motivations drive us most dominantly — can make a significant impact on how much we give, what causes we choose, what grantees foundations choose to support, how we structure or limit our grants, and every other aspect of our philanthropy. So, it’s worth asking ourselves: What thoughts and emotions are really prompting me to give?

Full article published in Sh'ma Now.

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