The Role of Time Resources

Like financial resources, availability of time also plays a role in enabling or constraining giving. Many people we spoke with cited a lack of available time as the reason they are unable to volunteer. However, our survey data in chapter 1 show that people clearly do have discretionary time available, certainly enough to spend a great deal of time on shopping for nonessential goods. Our case studies were similar: they all had discretionary time that they could reallocate to giving. One explanation for this discrepancy is the fact that many Americans perceive that they are busy. As with money, the perception of having time is in many ways more important than the absolute amount of time that is available. George Nettleson illustrates how someone can actively fight the perception of time constraints. George seems to have found a way to keep himself removed from the time pressures so many other Americans feel:

I rebel against hurriedness. And I feel that, maybe not your stress, but your hurriedness is something that every individual has control over and should be able to regulate on their own, they have the power to be hurried or unhurried. And I don’t do well if I have to be in a hurried and stressful situation for a very long time. I feel I have the power to control that, so I do.

Perhaps it is because he chooses to not view his life as hurried that he and his wife are able to give away so much of their time, despite both being employed and raising two busy daughters. George demonstrates how having discretionary time, like having discretionary financial resources, is partly in the eye of the beholder.

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