Overview of the Science of Generosity Initiative

Before diving into our findings on the nine forms of generosity, we would like to take a moment to explain the methods and methodologies that produced the data we analyze. Almost all of our research draws on the products of the Science of Generosity Initiative, a multimethod, collaborative study of American generosity. As we describe below in more detail, the initiative includes a nationally representative survey, geocoded residence research, personal interviews, ethnographic observations, and photographs to create a complex and multimodal vision of generosity in America.

Nationally Representative Survey

As mentioned, the SciGen Initiative at its core is a nationally representative, cross-sectional Internet survey conducted with adult Americans (age 23 and over) in 2010.6 The panel had a final sample size of 1,997 survey respondents with a 65.2 percent response rate.7 Figure I.1 depicts the minute discrepancies between our panel and the broader US public. Suffice it to say that both random sampling8 and statistical weighting9 (which accounts for national disparities in gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, Internet access, region, metropolitan area, volunteering levels, and nonresponse status) were used in order to allow confident reporting on the surveys as nationally representing American generosity (see Appendix Table A.I.1 for full descriptive statistics).

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