Too Much Giving Undermines Democracy

From my Psychology Today blog:


2 thoughts on “Too Much Giving Undermines Democracy

  1. Private philanthropy is fascinating because it goes to our essential selves. That is, we demonstrate our egos and values through whether and how we give to charity.

    Charities (from universities, hospitals, soup kitchens, Girl Scouts, to United Way type organizations) know that appeals to our hearts and egos garners more money than straightforward requests based on good works. So, a picture of a disheveled little girl with big eyes dressed in tattered clothes along with a promise to let her know that you gave the money is a lot more effective than telling you that the organization feeds several thousand impoverished children. Hence, big buck donors like to have things named for them as a way to achieve immediate recognition and a legacy. Small guy donors also like recognition.

    Big guy donors also like to be in charge of donations because as successful entrepreneurs they do not trust others.

    The Chan Zuckerbeg Initiative is a perfect example of these two psychological factors representative of big-time giving: Recognition and Control.

    Your article is right on when you point out that just maybe, perhaps, by chance persons intimately involved in charitable initiatives might be more competent to make philanthropic decisions. Just because someone is competent in one area does not mean the person has other competencies.

    But it is their money and they can – and do – spend it however they like.

    At least the billion dollar fortune is not being spent to care for the family cat.

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