The “Who” of American Giver Types

Now that we have illustrated the giving processes of our 12 case studies and have some sense of each giver type’s generosity behaviors, we examine who these different giver types are. Here we explore how the different social status characteristics that we discussed in chapter 2 apply to giver types.10 Figure 3.8 shows the distribution of demographic characteristics across giver types. The notations in the top of the bars represent whether there is a statistically significant difference compared to Atypical givers.11

Participation differences by giver type

figure 3.8 Participation differences by giver type.

These differences are independent of the other characteristics. For example, differences regarding female participation in giving hold constant any differences in income by gender.

These statistical analyses reveal patterns of social statuses for each group. Overall we find a linear relationship between income and giving type. Planned givers have the highest household income on average, followed by Habitual, Impulsive, and Selective givers. All four of these types have significantly higher incomes, on average, than Atypical givers. We also find that Planned givers are more likely than Atypical givers to be: [1]

Habitual givers are more apt than Atypical givers to be:

  • • Female
  • • College graduates
  • • Regular attenders of religious services

Compared to Atypical givers, Selective givers are more often:

  • • Female
  • • College graduates
  • • Regular attenders of religious services

• Republican

• Not as impacted by the recession

Impulsive givers are more likely than Atypical givers to be:

• College graduates

Thus our initial results and confirmatory analyses indicate that three characteristics are consistently important: education, religious service attendance, and income.12 These three measures are the most meaningful social status indicators for differentiating giver types.

To study how these three key characteristics (education, religious attendance, and income) relate to giver types, we plot a series of predicted probabilities in Figures 3.9. These predicted probabilities show the role that these three malleable social status characteristics play in differentiating the four main giver types from Atypical givers. They are malleable in contrast to characteristics that givers can not change, such as age, gender, and the impact of the recession. But income, religious service attendance, and educational attainment are characteristics that Americans exert some control over. They are also the ones that are most likely to fluctuate over the course of life. Thus we focus on these three traits to understand their important role in differentiating giver types and to highlight how giving processes interact with life changes and social contexts over the life course.

  • [1] Female • Regular attenders of religious services • Republican • Residents of urban areas • College graduates • Not as impacted by the recession
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