Giving and Identity: Why affluent Australians give - or don’t - to community causes

Madden, Kym M. (2006) Giving and Identity: Why affluent Australians give - or don’t - to community causes. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 41(4), pp. 453-476.


The trend to affluence in Australia is noteworthy. There are more Australian millionaires than ever before and the rate at which Australians are joining this group is one of the fastest in the world, with average assets held now worth US$4.1m, nudging the world’s average of US$4.8m (Merrill Lynch and Capgemini 2005). This is positive news for the community sector because the Giving Australia household survey indicates that Australia’s affluent are more likely give to community causes than those on lower incomes and are more likely to give more (PMCBP 2005). This trend is reflected in analyses of tax deductions claimed for charitable giving (McGregor-Lowndes and Marsden 2006). This paper presents the findings of qualitative research conducted as part of the Giving Australia project describing why affluent donors give - or don’t - to community causes. Findings from eight focus groups and eight in-depth interviews with affluent individuals suggest that giving by the affluent at lower levels may be linked to a sense of identity and responsibility within social groups, as well as the perceived worthiness of both the cause and recipient organisations. In contrast, major donor behaviour appeared to be linked to passion and personal commitment to social change. A range of barriers were also indicated such as a need for privacy and concerns about the capacity of community organisations. Overall, the study’s findings add to the understanding of giving behaviour by the affluent in Australia and confirm US findings that motivations for affluent donors are complex (for example, Boris 1987; Prince and File 1994; Schervish 2005; Johnson 2005).

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 6392
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: philanthropy, giving, affluent, Australia, motivations
ISSN: 0157-6321
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 ACOSS
Copyright Statement: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see link).
Deposited On: 07 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:26

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