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Strategic Philanthropists: Who Are They and Do They Matter?


  • Vicky Barham

    () (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada)

  • Rose Anne Devlin

    () (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada)

  • Rebekah Owusu

    () (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada)


Anecdotal evidence suggests that charitable givers – particularly those with the financial means and inclination to make substantial donations – are increasingly strategic in their philanthropic behavior. This study is the first econometric investigation of individual strategic giving, that is giving which is planned, concentrated, and where the donor is also involved as a volunteer. Approximately 3% of the total giver population gives strategically in Canada. We find that the propensity to give strategically is strongly and positively correlated with the level of education and youth experiences, and that strategic givers are substantially more generous than non-strategic givers, particularly after controlling for endogeneity. Strategic giving has a large positive impact on the amount donated to secular organisations, but has no effect whatsoever on the level of religious giving, supporting the view that religious gifts should be modelled differently from non-religious gifts.

Suggested Citation

  • Vicky Barham & Rose Anne Devlin & Rebekah Owusu, 2017. "Strategic Philanthropists: Who Are They and Do They Matter?," Working Papers 1717E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ott:wpaper:1717e

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Andreoni & Eleanor Brown & Isaac Rischall, 2003. "Charitable Giving by Married Couples Who Decides and Why Does it Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    2. Apinunmahakul, Amornrat & Devlin, Rose Anne, 2008. "Social networks and private philanthropy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 309-328, February.
    3. Duncan, Brian, 2004. "A theory of impact philanthropy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2159-2180, August.
    4. Warren B. Hrung, 2004. "After-Life Consumption and Charitable Giving," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 731-745, July.
    5. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    6. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
    7. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
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    Strategic giving; philanthropy; charitable donations.;

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