Webs of Affiliations and Higher Giving

When we investigate the amounts donated (logged) by givers, using this same fsQCA method to examine the configuration “recipes” of webs of affiliations, we find five statistically significant recipes, represented in Figure 5.10.20 Path 1 shows how parental modeling, friend support, religious calls, and local and national giving contexts create a WoA explaining greater amounts of donations.21 Of all the recipes this is the only one that holds without the ingredient of a generous personal identity. That is, people donate more if just about everyone around them supports generosity—no matter the level of importance they assign to their own generous self-identity and no matter their giving alignment or disagreement with their spouse.

Path 2 shows how the presence of a generous personal identity substitutes for the national affiliation ingredient in the recipe of Path 1.22 Path 3 shows that when religious calls to give are absent, all other affiliations, including GSID, must be giving-supportive in order to associate with greater giving amounts.23 Path 4 shows that religious calls can substitute for the combined ingredients of local and national groups in the recipe of Path 3.24 Finally Path 5 shows a recipe involving a low generous self-identity; coupled with low spousal alignment (where the spouse provides positive friction that encourages giving), along with the ingredients of friend support, religious calls, and perceptions of high local and national giving, and the result is a recipe for greater amounts of giving.25 Path 5 confirms our theory that if most of one’s primary relational contexts (with spouse, friends, church, and local and national contexts) support generosity, that person will give more even ifhe or she does not personally

Web combinations most closely associated with higher giving

figure 5.10 Web combinations most closely associated with higher giving.

identify with the importance of being generous. We next explain the place

of each affiliation in the five recipes.

  • 1. Role of Generous Personal Identity. Only one of the five recipes for greater amounts of giving, Path 1, does not involve having a generous self-identity. This means that in every recipe except this one, group affiliations cannot grease the wheels of generosity and lead to greater donation amounts unless a person first considers generosity important to his or her identity. When a positive GSID is missing, compensating for its absence requires a recipe wherein all affiliations except spouse—that is, parent, friend, religious, local, and national affiliations—are oriented to generosity. Alternatively Path 5 shows that for a person who does not agree that a generous personal identity is important, disagreement with his or her generous spouse, coupled with friends, a religious congregation, and perceptions of local and national giving that orient to generosity, can overcome a low GSID and cause greater donations.
  • 2. Role of Parental Influence. Parental influence is an ingredient in every recipe for greater donations except Path 5. In the other four pathways parental influence to give is a necessary ingredient. Path 5 shows that a positive-friction affiliation with a spouse can substitute for the parent ingredient in the recipe toward greater donations. Thus parental influence does differentiate between WoA configurations, but this influence seems to be a key ingredient for greater giving amounts, unless there is a spousal affiliation that counters a low personal identity.
  • 3. Role of Spousal Alignment. Spousal alignment plays a role in three of the five recipes related to greater giving amounts (Paths 3, 4, and 5). Path 3 shows that alignment with a generous spouse can substitute for the role of religious calls to give when all other affiliations are oriented toward giving. Path 4 indicates that alignment with a generous spouse coupled with religious calls to give can substitute for both community and national giving ingredients. High personal identity, parental influence, and friend support remain important in this path. The most interesting role of spousal alignment is in Path 5, where we see the positive friction process: the combination of low generous self-identity and low spousal alignment means that the spouse identifies as generous. This positive friction that a generous spouse provides to an ungenerous person—coupled with religious calls and giving-supportive friends, local community, and national context—creates a recipe of more giving from otherwise ungenerous people.
  • 4. Role of Friend Support. Affiliating with a group of close friends who are supportive of generosity is the key part of the pathways to greater giving. Giving-supportive friends appear to be a necessary ingredient in all five recipes for greater donation amounts. We acknowledge that we cannot separate the chicken from the egg here: those who give could be choosing to be friends only with other people who are giving, or close friends may allow only other generous people into their friend groups. But in the “grease the wheels” theory, who opted to be friends with whom is beside the point: the established affiliation generates this outcome where the amount of the donation is expected to increase. In a group that is supportive of generosity, we would expect every friend to donate larger amounts than each would give if his or her close friends were not supportive of generosity.
  • 5. Role of Religious Calls. Religious calls to give are a key ingredient for four of the five recipes for greater giving amounts. For those without exposure to religious calls to give, all other affiliations are highly oriented toward generosity when greater donations to occur, as Path 3 shows. It is also worth noting the influence of a religious call to give in Path 1 where there is the absence of a personal identity influence.
  • 6. Role of Local Community Context. The perception that one’s local community is generous plays a role in four of the five recipes for higher giving. Only Path 4 excludes this ingredient (and also excludes the national group context); it appears that for these Americans, alignment across the more personal affiliations is all that is needed in the recipe to greater giving.
  • 7. Role of National Context. Perceptions regarding national levels of giving play a less prominent role across the recipes than do perceptions of the local community context. When the national context is relevant, it is always paired with local community. Pathways 2 and 4, in which the national group affiliation is absent, require a substitution of generous personal identity along with giving-supportive parents, friends, and religious calls.

The Big Picture of the WoA Paths

When examining all of these affiliations together in traditional regression models, we see that self-identity, spousal alignment, friends’ support, religious calls, and local perceptions of generosity are significantly related to donation amounts. Once we add social status control measures to this model, we find that generous self-identity, giving-supportive friends, and a generous local community context retain independent relationships to higher donation amounts. Spousal alignment and religious calls are compensated by the social status measures.

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