Though Michael was not asked the spousal alignment questions on the survey, due to his widowed status, he reflected on his spousal alignment in the interview: [1]

trying to prepare for the future... . But [my wife] never criticized my giving or said that, “You’re giving too much.” And I never criticized her giving. . But again there was no, any disagreement or attempt to limit what the contribution should be.

Thus Michael has residual spousal alignment that provides some background for his giving, though it does not necessarily play a significant role in his affiliations today.


Michael scored high on his parental modeling of giving and describes their generosity in this way: “My parents were very generous in what they gave for charities. I mean I would say their primary charity would be the Catholic church that they attended. They gave to many charities.” He says that they volunteered for a number of causes, his father primarily to make business contacts. Michael describes his parents’ political involvement by saying, “They were not nearly as active as I was. I mean they had political views, but they basically voted.” But he goes on to say that his father was involved in the political campaign of a friend and neighbor, likely a definitive moment for his own political campaigning interest.

When we asked Michael, “Overall, when you think back to your parents, in general, how generous or not generous would you say they were as people?,” he said:

I’d say they were very generous in what they gave in terms of charitable cash contributions to organizations, particularly the Church. They were generous in terms of the time that they would assign for doing either charitable or public good-type activities. They were also generous in terms of doing things—in terms of activities that their children were involved in, such as sports.

We followed up by asking, “Looking back, how much influence or lack of influence would you say your parents have had on you when it comes to these kinds of issues? Giving money, volunteering, generosity?” Michael replied:

Well, they obviously had some impact. I would say my parents are probably more generous than I am in terms of giving. I mean I make charitable contributions, but my parents gave more and I have more income. But it’s more because I worked a lot more than my father did... . I mean I give a lot more in terms of political contributions than they did. And in terms of helping people, I think we have a similar philosophy. But I think we probably went about it in different ways because of our occupations. I mean, for example, my involvement in terms of helping people was done to a large degree through legislation that I work on. . My parents were more involved in terms of maybe giving money and then doing things like working at the church social or things of that nature. And I don’t have that kind of time to do that.

Michael continues by describing how his parents modeled giving in a very explicit way:

I could see them when I went to church with them. They would give us the money to drop in the in the basket, so either directly or indirectly I could see that. Did my parents make a concerted attempt to encourage me to give? I mean it’s not as if they sat down with me and said, “[Michael], I think you should give a certain percent of your income for charity.” I think they did it more by example.

Thus Michael exemplifies having high parental modeling to give to charitable causes. He also demonstrates how their model of giving may still continue to set the bar high, to the point that he feels his own giving level does not meet their standard, despite how generously he does give compared to others. This could be one factor that sustains his giving over time, always calling him to give more than he currently does.

  • [1] would say general agreement. My wife wanted to, would probably like to spend more than I would. I was more of a saver in terms of
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